REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Dr. Patrick Taylor didn’t choose civil service – it chose him.
As a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, Taylor was just biding his time until he was old enough to enter the FBI Academy. When a group of students approached him about helping out with a video project with the Army, Taylor agreed to provide his multimedia expertise, not realizing the connections he was making at Redstone Arsenal would shape his career.
“I had never had any designs of doing rocket science stuff, I never had any designs of working for the military or in the public sector, but I met with the folks, and we got along very well. When they asked me if I would be interested in furthering my career, I said sure,” Taylor said.
For 14 years Taylor has served the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center as an electrical engineer, working within the sphere of electrical power. As the center’s power technology area lead, Taylor focuses on power systems, to include work on novel types of energy that can provide the Warfighter with extended power, more time on station or added capabilities, or save on logistical costs for the Army. His scope of work also includes the development of “newer technologies so that we can keep pushing our capabilities further out, we can keep pressing the envelope on what’s possible, and therefore give our Soldiers the best chance of success during the mission.”
“What I enjoy most is that there are things that we have the ability to work on, and sciences that we have access to, that you just can’t find anywhere else,” Taylor said. “You can always work for a company and make a product, but you’re beholden to that company’s desire to make a profit. Working on the federal side you can help shape the way that decisions are made, and you get access to these technologies that not everyone has access to. Not everybody can shoot rocket motors off or be part of a missile flight test. It’s a very unique environment.”
From an early age, Taylor knew he wanted to devote his career to science. As his time capsule from fourth grade will attest, “I said I either wanted to be a scientist, a weatherman, a Jedi knight or a second baseman for the New York Mets,” Taylor said. “I failed in three of those endeavors but I did succeed in one.”
A coin toss ultimately decided his field of study at Vanderbilt University – he and his brother were attending college at the same time, and didn’t want to pursue the same engineering field. Taylor lost the flip, so instead of mechanical engineering, he went down the electrical path, ultimately receiving all three of his engineering degrees from Vanderbilt. He began working at the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center while he was finishing his dissertation.
“I have very much enjoyed my time here at Redstone,” Taylor said. “I’ve been surrounded by many brilliant people over the years who helped shape my career and helped me along. Everything is a team effort. I can only do as well as the support personnel around me who help me to succeed. If I can help someone else to succeed, that pays it forward.”
Taylor, who is big on mentoring, offered this career advice.
“Don’t pigeonhole yourself in, because different opportunities can present themselves through different means by just being a good person, easily accessible, good at what you do, and open to new opportunities,” Taylor said.
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.