REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 15, 2022) – Perseverance, patience and persistence.
Those qualities have guided Christine Dedrick all through her life, from growing up on a farm in rural Alabama to her career with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
And they have paid in dividends. Dedrick was recognized in February at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards as the winner of the BEYA Outstanding Technical Contribution in Government award.
Dedrick said that she learned early to tackle challenges head on and make the most of opportunities. Going from a small high school with a graduating class of 79 to a flagship university was a culture shock for the Greensboro native.
“My first class at Alabama was in a big auditorium – we probably had more than 79 students in that biology class!” she said with a laugh.
Dedrick said that there were not any black female engineers to serve as role models in her small town but “my math teacher in high school was the person that who said, ‘Oh, I think you would make a great engineer.’”
But arriving at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Dedrick realized that she was initially at a disadvantage compared to fellow students from larger schools with more diverse curriculum. That didn’t deter her.
“Most high schools have a calculus class but we didn’t, our highest math class was differential equations,” she said. “But you don’t know what you don’t know until you get into that situation. I quickly learned not to be shy in getting the extra help I needed from my teachers and tutors at UA.”
After graduation, Dedrick moved to be closer to her sister, a journalist in Huntsville, and joined the DEVCOM AvMC team. She is currently matrixed to the Program Executive Office, Intelligence Electronic Warfare & Sensors at the Aircraft Survivability Equipment Program. She works on the next generation lightweight, laser-based infrared countermeasure system that will be used to defeat current and emerging missile threats that target rotary-wing, tilt-rotor and small fixed-wing aircraft. Simply put, she works to protect the aircraft that keeps Soldiers safe.
When not at work, Dedrick enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Dedrick also serves as a mentor for young women interested in their own STEM careers, being the role model that she herself needed growing up.
Dedrick said that it was a complete surprise to learn that she had won the BEYA award. But she started to realize something was up when her co-workers were suspiciously present for a briefing she had prepared for her boss.
“To me, it was a shock and such an honor,” Dedrick said. “I am really thrilled. I have received awards before, but this one really means a lot to me because it's focused on STEM, specifically. And that's what I've done all of my life -- guide people to math and science. That is something that's been so close to my heart. It can really open doors to so many things and I love that. Just look at 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.