REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (April 26, 2022) – When she found out that she won a rising professional award, Emma Rhonemus was finishing up her work week and ready to head home on a Friday afternoon.
Then she opened an email from the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Army Aviation Association of America and received a big surprise.
“I was honored my leadership team took the time out of their busy schedules to draft and submit the nomination package," Rhonemus said. "I appreciate the amount of effort that Quad A puts into running their giant recognition program. It takes a lot of time to review the numerous nomination packages. It is very humbling.”
Rhonemus is a production engineer for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. She is matrixed to Program Executive Office Missiles and Space in the Tactical Aviation and Ground Munitions Project Office’s Aviation Rockets and Small Guided Munitions, specifically on Hydra-70.
“As a production engineer I help ensure the rockets we buy meet the government’s technical specifications spelled out in the contract. It’s about paying attention to details, being a good steward of tax payer dollars, and supporting the Warfighter,” Rhonemus said.
Upon meeting Rhonemus, one quickly sees just exactly why she was a clear choice for the Rising Professional Award for the 1st Quarter 2022 Mission Area Award. Besides intellect and an enthusiasm for her work, she also has a natural kindness and outgoing, friendly nature that bellies the typical engineer stereotype. It is a skill that many military children hone, as they find themselves in a new environment making new friends every few years.
“I was an Air Force kid. We moved often. I lived in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Washington D.C.; Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico,” she said. “I am grateful. It gave me the opportunity to experience different cultures, different people, different food and different climates. After my dad retired, we moved to Huntsville. My parents never imagined they would move to Alabama and now they can’t fathom leaving.”
Rhonemus went to Auburn University and majored in mechanical engineering with a concentration in tribology – the study of friction, wear, lubrication, and the design of bearings. She is currently studying at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a master’s degree in Engineering Management. DEVCOM AvMC ended up on Rhonemus’ radar after she attended a career fair at Redstone Arsenal.
“It was a day where you walked around and saw all of the things that the Arsenal did, which was really fascinating,” she said. “Growing up, your parents and all of your friends’ parents work on the Arsenal but it is kind of a mystery what they actually do. Seeing the scope of the Arsenal and what we provide the Army – I had so much fun and met so many new people.”
Rhonemus graduated from Auburn during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when all gatherings – including graduations - were cancelled. She said that she has already informed her mother that for her upcoming graduation from UAH, she will be walking, and they will be celebrating, Rhonemus said, laughing.
But school was not always easy, she shared. “There were days I didn’t think I would make it. I just kept pushing through and I eventually made it. I am glad I didn’t give up.”
That perseverance has led her to TAGM, where she is a rising star – but more importantly, a career in which Rhonemus feels that she has found her calling.
“I enjoy working on a legacy program,” she said. “This is my granddaddy’s rocket – it has been around since the 1960s. Legacy programs often have obsolescence challenges. Many of the original materials and production techniques age out. As a production engineer I ensure the new materials and production techniques still meet the original specifications. There is a lot of reverse engineering and planning that goes into making sure we are still delivering a good product.
“Hydra-70 is an old system with a battle proven history. I’m honored to be a small part of its future. I take great pride in knowing that my efforts directly support the Warfighter.”
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.