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ADELPHI, Md. -- A researcher from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory was recently recognized as the 2019 Army Education Outreach Program Mentor of the Year.

Dr. Philip Perconti, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Research and Technology presented Dr. Brenda VanMil with the award at the Pentagon.

She is one of 22 mentors nominated for the award from among nearly 2,000 people.

AEOP is a portfolio of opportunities composed of competitions, unique experiences, research apprenticeships and teacher resources designed to spark inspiration, exploration and achievement in STEM literacy as well as foster a STEM literate 21st century workforce.

VanMil works in the lab's Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate. Her nomination set her apart for her work mentoring a high school student through the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program.

Their research project focused on locating silicon carbide defects in order to optimize material growth for single photon emitters.

"These efforts will improve understanding of quantum entanglement that enables clocks and sensors for navigation and communications," VanMil said.

According to VanMil, robust navigation and timing research is conducted in support of the Army Modernization Priorities in Long-Range Precision Fires and Army Network, and one such potential improvement based on this research is through increased sensitivity in magnetometers needed for navigation.

"I was honored to be recognized for my mentoring efforts," VanMil said. "I have had a number of amazing people mentor me through the years and I am glad I was able to continue to pay it forward."

For VanMil, mentoring is an extremely important responsibility for scientists and engineers, as it helps the next generation develop skills and experience.

"Mentoring is a time-consuming, but rewarding experience," VanMil said. "You can help develop people that you will continue to work with either on your team or in a collaboration. To be a mentor, you have to have time, patience and the ability to communicate. It may not be for everyone, but it is a rewarding experience."

VanMil always makes an effort to work with students at CCDC ARL. Over the years, this has included students who are completing their degree work at ARL, participating in a summer program and as post-doctoral fellows.

"I am always looking for educational opportunities for students in my work," VanMil said. "Students should look for a mentor who has similar interests. A good mentor can motivate you and provide advice and direction that will be useful for years to come."

Going forward in fiscal 2020, the laboratory plans to continue mentoring students in several programs including the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate program.


CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

Related Links:

U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory

U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command

Army Futures Command