APG, Md. -- Passion and dedication are two qualities that allow someone to shine in the workforce. These are qualities that have not gone unnoticed in Brian Leftridge, a STEM outreach specialist for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command.
Because of his passion in science, technology, engineering and math, Leftridge was awarded the Rising Star Award at the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council Visionary Awards Gala, held on Feb. 27th at the Richlin Ballroom.
The Rising Star Award is given to those in STEM who demonstrate the potential to be an excellent, long term contributor to STEM Education or Technology & Innovation.
Leftridge started with CCDC as a contract program analyst in the CCDC STEM Outreach five years ago supporting local outreach events in the community. Now as a civilian employee, he supports strategy and big picture planning for STEM events, from local to Department of Defense levels.
Before starting in STEM Outreach, Leftridge was a high school math teacher who had no idea these programs existed. "When I came through the gate, it was a whole new world. It's been great for me to reach back to the teachers I knew in the county and say, 'hey, there's all this great stuff for your students and it's free.'"
Leftridge was nominated by his peers in STEM Outreach, Christina Weber, chief K-16 STEM Education & Outreach and Army Educational Outreach Program Cooperative Agreement Manager; and Matt Kiefert, STEM program analyst, but he received additional nominations outside the STEM office, as well.
"It was a no brainer to nominate Brian. He fits every quality of the Rising Star Award and then some. He truly cares about the people he works with and the students he comes in contact with. He's dedicated to making our STEM programs the best they can be in order to help our current and future students surpass their education goals. We feel fortunate to have him on our team," Weber said.
He was honored to receive the NMTC Rising Star Award but what made receiving the award even more special was being nominated by his peers.
"It's a great group of people who do STEM outreach across many different levels. They're so passionate about what they do and go out of their way to make the STEM experiences and opportunities for students even better. To me, that's the most important thing: they were the ones to nominate and recognize me."
Leftridge continues to be inspired by those who work with the participants on the ground, from volunteers to mentors. He continued, "I have a tremendous respect for the mentors and all they do. It's long hours, unpaid, and extra duties as assigned. They're going out of their way to be involved with this great cause."
If there was one ultimate goal he could achieve, it would be creating more awareness with what the U.S. Army and DOD does in STEM education.
His goal is to continue spreading program awareness and brand awareness so that the words, 'U.S. Army,' doesn't only resonate as enlisting as a Soldier but, also, building a future as a civilian in a myriad of fields.
Going from teaching high school to working for the DOD was a big change and admittedly took some adjustment. However, Leftridge discussed how over time, he began to build rapport, relationships and trust with people from CCDC headquarters, its centers and Army Research Laboratory, and across the globe.
Leftridge said, each person he's had the chance to work with has given him the opportunity to be a better leader by highlighting the important and unique aspects of working within the STEM Outreach Program.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), formerly known as the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), has the mission to lead 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. The command collaborates across the Future Force Modernization Enterprise and its own global network of domestic and international partners in academia, industry and other government agencies to accomplish this mission. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.