REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 9, 2022) – It is not often that you get instructed on how to do the new Army-style pushups from an Army general himself.
That was where Rodney Morgan found himself last fall in Yuma, Arizona. Morgan, a mechanical engineer, was new to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center and didn’t quite know what he was getting himself into when volunteering for the two-month assignment. But his “up for anything” personality and a desire to help wherever needed led him to offer to assist in an Army demonstration of emerging and future technology.
That demonstration was Project Convergence 21, the Army’s main modernization showcase focusing on the future of warfare with a joint-domain approach. Which translated into: high profile event, high profile guests. Morgan found himself interacting with top members of the Army as he assisted with the implementation of Covid-19 protocols. It turned out to be a natural fit.
“Growing up, I was always a worker bee,” Morgan said. “I grew up working in a family-owned business created by my father and that entrepreneurial work effort rubbed off on me.”
Morgan, from Bessemer, went to Alabama A&M on a football scholarship. After internships with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, NASA and Turner Construction, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and accepted a career opportunity with the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center in early summer 2021. Starting a new job during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced his decision to volunteer and gain some in-person experience, even if that experience would not be the typical 9-5 office setup.
“They were up front about what was expected from the work days – six, sometimes seven days a week, 12-hour days, in the Arizona weather,” he said.
During one of those long days, Morgan and DEVCOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Miles Brown shared an inspiring conversation.
“He asked me, ‘What are you passionate about? What drives you?’ I told him that I really want to be able to give back to the community using STEM education,” Morgan said. “That's a problem where I'm from, STEM education is a huge area where we are lacking. In college, I had to get up to speed with some of my peers who had STEM education programs and had experienced a lot of cool stuff like computer-aided design. I never had that so I had to work extra hard to catch up and to get ahead. That is a big one for me. And you know, I think the general and I shared that passion.”
Brown definitely took note of Morgan’s desire to serve, awarding him a Commander’s Coin and a Civilian Service Medal at the end of PC21, and his office later inviting him to speaker’s panel for Black History Month at Aberdeen Proving Ground this month.
“Rodney’s positive energy and desire to do his best, regardless of the assignment, are infectious. Whether at DEVCOM AvMC or in his community, he strives to make a difference,” Brown said. “He is just one example of the amazing STEM professionals we have across DEVCOM and with teammates like Rodney on our side, I’m confident that the future of Army modernization is in good hands.”
His dedication also caught the notice of AvMC Director Jeff Langhout who presented Morgan with a certificate of appreciation earlier this year.
Morgan’s love for all things science, technology, engineering and math doesn’t just stay at the office. Morgan is close with his family and enjoys spending time with them at family dinners.
“I have a lot of nieces and nephews and little cousins who know when I come in, it’s time to do math – and win money. I bought little dry erase boards and they run up to me saying, ‘Give me my problem!’” Morgan said with a laugh.
“It’s cool to see them excited -- they weren't always like that. They inspire me by how excited they are about school. That's amazing to me.”
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.