ADELPHI, Md. -- An Army scientist has the unique ability to shape both the scientific capabilities and also the leaders of the future Army.
Dr. Michael Brodsky is part of a visiting science program at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Brodsky, from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory at Adelphi, Maryland, spent the past year teaching a calculus-based physics course to cadets in New York. His class is a foundation for subsequent studies in engineering and science and demonstrates military application and relevance of the fundamental physics concepts.
“Teaching a core physics class has a huge advantage to my mission,” Brodsky said. “As every cadet in the academy takes core science classes, I had a unique opportunity to interface with a diverse crowd of cadets, not limited to those in science and engineering. Many of these bright, young future Army officers were unaware of the huge, mostly civilian force of Army scientists who are researching and shaping their future capabilities.”
Brodsky has been part of the academy’s Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, where many of his teaching colleagues are Army officers. They have shared their insights from infantry, armor, aviation, field artillery, engineer and other Army branches. Likewise, Brodsky and previous visiting scientists from the lab have educated their peers on how Army scientists and engineers are operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch.
“From my personal experience, teaching at the academy is a unique opportunity to influence the future Army leaders’ understanding of the importance of science for creating future Army capabilities as well as how we assess future operational threats,” said Cynthia Bedell, director of the Lab’s Computational and Information Sciences Directorate. “Many cadets discover new academic interests in science and engineering while attending the academy. Knowing that they can pursue a research and development career after their field unit time allows officers to shape their early careers toward understanding operational needs. They are then able to work with the military and civilian researchers toward solving those needs.”
The faculty at the academy said relationships with the civilian technical workforce are invaluable.
“Our nation and the Army continue to be on the leading edge of a technological wave that will impact how we fight and win future conflicts,” said Col. John Hartke, head of the Physics and Nuclear Engineering Department. “Dr. Brodsky, and the ARL Visiting Scientist Program, are essential components to supporting the Army’s modernization priorities. With his expertise, Dr. Brodsky is able to authoritatively communicate the military relevancy of physics to cadets, demonstrate America’s technological dominance, and motivate and inspire a lifetime commitment to scientific competency. He is also able to directly interact with our rotating faculty that come from and return to the operational Army to help ensure Army warfighting needs remain at the point of the spear.”
Brodsky said Soldiers’ perspectives are critical to Army scientists and technologists.
“For us, the Army scientists, the Army and its combat branches are our principal customers,” Brodsky said. “Through my experience at the academy, I have seen firsthand how ARL’s everyday activities align with the long-term mission of the academy and the Army as a whole.”
Brodsky joined the laboratory in 2014 to start a research effort in quantum communications and networks. At the time, the DOD recognized the need to build up local expertise in quantum information science, quantum communication and computing across the tri-service labs. Since then, the research program he built has been exploring potential uses of quantum networks and inventing methods and techniques of implementing secure and reliable quantum information transfer.
Brodsky has continued his research work remotely while on faculty at the academy. At the same time, he has developed a deeper understanding of future officers’ perspectives--both on technologies and battlefield applications--and also a deeper appreciation of the far-term research conducted at the lab. Going forward, he hopes to formalize a way to establish a long-term relationship between scientists at the lab and faculty and West Point cadets.
“I think researchers, branch and division chiefs would benefit from more frequent, direct connections to the cadre of academy officers,” Brodsky said. “Establishing a mechanism for sustained collaboration would continue to direct research toward Army needs while also developing the scientific literacy of both officers and cadets.”
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 the nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.