REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 22, 2022) – She’s a third generation Army civilian, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, but forging her own way at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Kelsey Brown is the software management lead for the Joint Multi-Platform Advanced Combat Identification Algorithm and technical lead for the Digital Radio Frequency Memory capability at the Radar Operations Facility. Although she has been at DEVCOM AvMC for the past 15 years, in reality, Redstone Arsenal has always played an integral role in her life.
“My mom brought me to work a lot on the Arsenal,” Brown said. “And I remember when I was younger I was doing cartwheels in an engineer's office. While I was doing cartwheels, I asked him how he had a bigger office. And his answer was, ‘Because I'm an engineer and solve problems.’ I replied that I wanted to solve problems and have a big office when I grow up. He advised me to become an engineer -- and it kind of just went from there!”
Brown’s humility is evident in her retelling but in reality, a lot of hard work brought her to where she is today. She began with AvMC as a SMART Scholar while obtaining a Bachelors of Systems Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship-for-Service, or SMART, Program is a scholarship-for-service award in which the Department of Defense funds a student’s academic studies and in turn, that student will owe the government that many years of civilian service. She then obtained a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering, “during COVID so that was fun,” Brown said with a laugh.
When planning her career, Brown realized that more than just close proximity, the work done on the Arsenal was important – and that she wanted to be part of the mission.
“I knew that I wanted to support the Warfighter. And then I was really good at math and then being exposed to a lot of different engineers through going to work with my mom, I think really helped me decide on that path forward,” she shared.
Fifteen years in, Brown is still passionate about her job to the point that sometimes she feels that she needs to temper her natural enthusiasm for her work.
“I love that radar is an ever growing technology,” Brown said. “It does not stand still when other technologies have reached their peak. Radars are always evolving.”
When not working with radars, Brown and her husband enjoys the outdoors -- specifically, jeeping and traveling across the country to different jeep trails. One of their most memorable trips, she said, was traveling the Top of the World Trail, which is exactly what it sounds like, an 18.9 mile out and back trail near Moab, Utah which offers scenic views and might not be for those scared of heights.
Brown is a proud “bonus mom” and soon there will be a car seat in the back of the jeep as Brown and her husband are expecting a baby in late summer 2022.
Looking forward, Brown said that her ultimate goal is to become an Army Senior Research Scientist, as she has been influenced and mentored by the STs who call AvMC home. And if her stepchild or new baby decides to follow in her footsteps and become a fourth generation Army civilian, she will have some advice for them that she has learned over the last 15 years.
“You're probably not going to find your element right out of school,” she advised. “You're probably going to find your element a little bit later in life. And that is okay. Because we all need to explore different options in order to find what makes us happy and what we're good at. And that always doesn't come right out of out of school.
“I was expecting it to be there automatically. And it wasn't there. So I think we need to make sure that we tell the next generation and the next set of engineers to give themselves time in discovering their element. And that may not be in the place that they're currently at. They may need to move on to a different place to find what they enjoy. This will help them set up their career path for the long haul.”
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.