REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (August 21, 2020) – Classrooms are wonderful environments for learning. But when a global pandemic closes college campuses, an on-site internship suddenly becomes that much more valuable.
During the summer of 2020, the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC), located on Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, hosted 23 Department
of the Army Government Civilian interns. All students were engineers and came from a variety of colleges such as Texas A&M University, University of South Carolina; and many in-state campuses from the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
Leta Wang, a rising sophomore from The University of Alabama, learned about the internship program while visiting an on-campus job fair earlier in the year. As a freshman, she didn’t think an internship opportunity would work out, but was grateful it did right when the pandemic hit this past spring.
“Overall my experience has been amazing”, said Wang. “Even though the world is crazy right now because of COVID-19, I am super grateful the HR [human resource] teams were able to get us here. The wonderful people here has been my favorite part. Getting to meet new people, talking to them about what they do, getting advice and learning from them has been amazing.”
Reed Silver, a rising junior from Auburn University, shared details about his internship experience.
“Before RTC, I did not have experience working in the engineering field”, said Reed. “So, I was really looking for exposure. Thankfully, RTC has a very broad focus and interns can spend time learning about testing, metrology, design, machining, and other areas. This type of broad exposure is something I really wanted to give me a better idea of what I would like to do in the future.”
At RTC, interns get ‘hands-on’ experience every summer. This summer, that experience also included real-life COVID-19 mitigation procedures to keep on-site employees safe while executing RTC’s mission of providing test and evaluation services to the Warfighter.
Wang spent her summer with the Advanced Test Instrumentation Products Division and Silver spent his time with engineers from the Component Test and Analysis Division. Both divisions fall under RTC’s Environmental and Components Test Directorate. Interns were also placed at RTC’s Aviation and Flight Test Directorate and the Missile and Sensors Test Directorate.
“Being able to come to the internship and interact with people, even with COVID-19 precautions, put me back in a good headspace to learn”, explained Wang. “I always felt safe and taken care of at this internship. It was harder for me to learn from people who were teleworking just because there was that physical disconnect. Obviously there was nothing that anyone could do about that due to COVID-19, but I am forever grateful for the people that I was able to interact with and learn from.”
Many of the interns at RTC this summer were interviewed at on-campus job fairs earlier in the school year. Most of the engineering students had never heard of RTC; even those with parents working on Redstone Arsenal for NASA, like Silver.
“As a rising junior, my goals for my career are still rather abstract”, said Silver, “But, I still have some time to decide what area I would like to work in and how I can help. This experience has changed my perspective due to its incredibly tangible nature. Rather than abstract principles and goals, to me, RTC's mission is to support the Warfighter, in whatever way possible. Growing up, I always had a wow factor when it came to the Army. I was in awe of the Army’s mission and how the Army protects our freedom. Being able to directly help service members be prepared for whatever they may encounter is a very special
The Department of the Army Civilian interns have the option to return to RTC next summer and this upcoming winter break.