PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Oct. 3, 2019) -- A Picatinny employee was presented the first Armament Graduate School Doctor of Philosophy in Armaments Engineering certificate here on Oct. 3, while three other employees received Master of Armament Engineering certificates during the school's fifth commencement ceremony.

The Armament Graduate School provides a rigorous, graduate-level curriculum in armament engineering. The school is unique in that it integrates chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering disciplines while encompassing statistics, applied mathematics, material science and the scientific method.

By obtaining a PhD in his subject area, Tomas R. Bober, an employee of the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, had accomplished "something no one else has done, as far as we have been able to determine," said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, commander of the Combat Capabilities Development Command.

Furthermore, said Wins, Bober's dissertation on wind compensation for fire control is already having an impact on weapon systems design.

Bober defended his dissertation on April 1 before a panel of experts from the Armaments Center, the Department of Energy, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He was advised by fellow Armaments Center employee, Thomas Recchia, who has a PhD in robotics from Stevens University.

"Being the first is sometimes a difficult thing, because you're not always provided the guidance as to what to do next, so sometimes you have to make it up," said Donald Carlucci, chancellor of the Armament Graduate School. "All the graduates that follow him are going to be looking to him for advice."

Jonathan H. Copp, Steven L. Manole and Nathan M. Peabody were presented master's degree certificates during the ceremony, joining 16 others to have been similarly recognized -- including Bober, who received his Master's Certificate in 2015.

The graduation ceremony featured the official party in traditional graduation dress, music by the volunteer band the Picatinny Powder Kegs, a symbolic mace comprised of elements related to Picatinny's history in armaments development, and four ceremonial salute rounds from a howitzer.

Hundreds of hours of study were necessary for each graduate of the Armament Graduate School, who attended as both a student and employee. The rigors of the curriculum include, roughly, three hours of classes and 8-10 hours of homework per week, all in addition to normal work duties, according to Carlucci.

The Armament Graduate School is part of the CCDC Armaments Center, whose mission is to lead research, development and engineering of systems solutions to arm those who defend the nation against all current and future threats, both at home and abroad.

"At the end of the day, when that Soldier and the warfighters get to their destination, their systems better work, said John F. Hedderich, III, director of the CCDC Armaments Center. "It has to be reliable and safe."

In order to develop reliable, safe systems, the Armament Graduate School supports the Armaments Center mission by developing personnel who are more broadly-trained and well-versed in armaments engineering and research.

"We produce what we promise, and our secret weapon is our people," said Hedderich. "If you want to be ahead of the bad guys, if you want to be ahead of the curve, you've got to have the smartest people working on the systems that we field."

General Wins, after giving credit to Hedderich for his vision in 2010 to develop the Armament Graduate School, attributed the continued success of the school to the staff, faculty, students and all the supporters who have made it flourish.

"This is a pretty impressive array of people who have all committed to making this program work, to stand up this university and to get this thing going," said Wins.

"When this program started it took anywhere from 7-10 years to develop an expert armament engineer," he continued. "As the program developed and the training environment materialized, that has been reduced considerably.

"The Army faces some of the greatest challenges in the world and so it needs to have the best capabilities so that we can go and fight and win, and we need extremely talented and smart individuals, like the graduates of this school, to be a part of this effort.

"As our Army moves forward, it is essential that we continually develop the most knowledgeable intelligent workforce who can stand on the shoulders of the current experts that we have, many of which are assembled here before you," said Wins.

"The Armament Graduate School helps the Army keep up with the speed of relevancy," the general added.