REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 4, 2021) – For engineer Chris Hodges, Redstone Arsenal is a family tradition.
Growing up in Decatur, Hodges’ father worked on the installation. Hodges joined him at age 17, when he was accepted into a summer engineering apprentice program, before heading to Auburn University to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating he was drawn back to the opportunity to be a part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
“There’s an intrinsic motivational factor just about the mission of the organization,” Hodges said. “It’s very rewarding to know what you are doing safeguards the well-being of our Soldiers. It’s a mission that a lot of people take very seriously.”
Hodges likens his job as the technical deputy director for airworthiness at the DEVCOM AvMC Systems Readiness Directorate to working for the Federal Aviation Administration, but in terms of Army aviation. He helps ensure the airworthiness of all the Army’s rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft, a “motivating and challenging mission that requires a good bit of technical expertise across a wide array of disciplines,” he said.
It might be surprising to learn that Hodges doesn’t think of himself as a natural engineer, even with his experience working in aerospace engineering, specifically, structural aircraft integrity. But what does come innately to him is problem solving.
As a second-generation Redstone engineer and the father of three, odds are that one or more of Hodges’ three sons could also follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, especially with the projected explosive growth of Redstone in the next decade. For them – or any up-and-coming engineer who might also not think of themselves as a natural engineer, Hodges shared words of advice.
“Find a balance between the technical side and the leadership side to see value in training for both worlds and learning soft skills,” Hodges said. “Learn to communicate. Learn stakeholder management. Learn how to work with people.”
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.