By RACHEL PONDER, APG NewsJune 11, 2009
Aberdeen High School recognized two alumni for their career achievements and community involvement by inducting them into the AHS Hall of Fame April 27. One of the inductees is an Aberdeen Proving Ground employee.
Brian Simmons, director of the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, was recognized as being one of the driving forces behind the establishment of AHS's Science and Math Academy in 2004. SMA is a renowned science technology engineering and mathematics, or STEM academy and magnet program. Simmons also served on the APG Science and Technology Board.
At APG, he is responsible for ensuring that Army and Office of Secretary of Defense senior leaders have the essential information required before weapons and equipment are placed into the hands of Soldiers and throughout the lifecycle of those systems. He directs the evaluation for more than 50 weapons programs through an 800-person workforce and a $140 million budget.
"Simmons was humbly appreciative of Bob McGee, an Aberdeen High School teacher who nominated him, along with Donna Clem, the director of the Science and Math Academy," said Eileen Campbell, APG school liaison.
During the induction, Simmons thanked his wife, mother and son, who he noted was "more like me than you know."
Simmons encouraged the AHS students to "Find something you like to do, and be all that you can be!"
During the ceremony Simmons was recognized as being a dedicated student while attending AHS, and active member in football track, weight lifting and wrestling. He was also inducted into the National Honor Society.
Richard Slutzky, who was Simmons' wrestling coach, recalled that Simmons excelled in academic studies and athletics.
"His modesty does not reveal his dedication and hard work. He always did what he could to serve," he said.
Simmons later said that Slutzky, who is now a Harford County Councilman, inspired him and helped him develop his leadership skills. Simmons said that he challenged young men and women to develop a strong work ethic and a positive attitude.
Simmons added that he and his wife attended AHS, and that both received a quality education and met a diverse group of people as a result of attending the school.
"My wife and I both had a positive impression of AHS long before SMA was established," he said. "I learned from going to AHS that everyone counts," he said. "I have a good feeling that the social interactions I experienced by attending AHS had a big difference on how I viewed things over time."
Simmons said that he is pleased with the success of the SMA program and the involvement of the APG mentors.
"There doesn't seem to be any shortage of quality mentors for these students," he said.
Simmons added that he feels like the SMA students are a motivated group of students.
"I am so happy at what that group has done, and when I spoke at the SMA gallery walk, I saw very talented people ready to get something done," he said.
Simmons added that the SMA program is important, especially since there has been a decline of students studying the STEM subjects in colleges and universities in the United States.
"SMA acts as a strategic launching pad into the most prestigious colleges and universities, with most students planning to pursue [research and development] careers when they graduate. This is a powerful thing, especially at a time when our nation really needs it," he said.
Simmons said that APG is a premier research, development and testing installation for the Army that has a growing need for employees that have specialized degrees in the STEM subjects. He hopes that SMA students will consider working at APG in the future.
Simmons said that he is happy to see that SMA has seen tremendous support in the community and at APG.
"It just makes me smile to see how people are supporting this program," he said.
Simmons said that he believes in the importance of education and encourages his young workforce to pursue graduate degrees, adding that 10 percent of the ATEC workforce is in graduate school, at the expense of the organization.
"I am a huge believer in growing your own workforce," he said.
The AHS Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to recognize AHS graduates who are a positive mentor/role model to youth, demonstrate commitment to the community and demonstrate exceptionality to his or her field. Cal Ripken Sr. and Cal Ripken Jr. are among those who have been inducted into the AHS Hall of Fame.
The other inductee was Amy Wood, a 1982 AHS graduate and the head coach of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase field hockey team, one of the most prestigious teams in the state.
"I am honored to be among the others who are in the AHS Hall of Fame," Simmons said. "A lot of great people came out of Aberdeen, and I think that the AHS Hall of Fame is a great idea."