REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (June 7, 2022) – Don’t be fooled by the name. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s portfolio does not end at missiles and aviation.
Take Mike Fagundes. After two decades as a software engineering consultant in industry, six years ago Fagundes took a position as modeling and simulation branch chief for the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center supporting the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, located in Hawaii.
While Fagundes has made a career in computer engineering, his first love in life was basketball. Fagundes grew up outside Sacramento, California, and spent his childhood outdoors and on the court. He accepted a basketball scholarship to what was then-known as United States International University (later Alliant International University). Needing a change after injuring his finger, he decided that he had always enjoyed nice weather “and while San Diego’s weather is not bad, I could only think of one place with nicer weather and that was Hawaii,” Fagundes said.
Fagundes transferred to Hawaii Pacific University, where he also played basketball while obtaining his bachelor’s degree – and later, master’s degrees. Hawaii suited him, he decided, and while working in industry and teaching graduate classes at HPU, a student – who happened to be a Department of Defense consultant – reached out to him after class about an opportunity working for his company supporting USINDOPACOM’s training and exercise program.
“I have worked for many years within the Department of Defense environment, supporting the United States Indo-Pacific Command and other organizations, and I have grown a great appreciation for this community,” Fagundes said. “I have built several teams over the years – experts who do design planning, execution and assessment of exercise events. When I transitioned over to the government, the special part about that for me was that for years I had been making recommendations as a consultant but I really wanted to be part of the decision process and driving the capabilities. So I felt very fortunate when I was put in the position as the modeling and simulation branch chief within the K. Mark Takai Pacific Warfighting Center, a key enabling organization for USINDOPACOM.”
In his role, Fagundes travels across the Pacific engaging with allies and partners.
“I like the dynamic nature of the activities and priorities that change on a daily to weekly basis,” Fagundes said. “While we have a schedule and a number of training exercises we support within the Joint Exercise Program at USINDOPACOM, priorities change. As we continue to deliver joint synthetic environments to ongoing exercises, we are incorporating new and enhanced capabilities via the Pacific Multi-domain Training and Experimentation Capability, which is a top priority for the USINDOPACOM commander, and increases capabilities across training ranges and other sites to enable the joint forces and to make sure the joint force is mission ready.”
When not at work, Fagundes can usually be found outdoors enjoying his scenic surroundings. Like everyone else, COVID-19 restricted his family’s activities with the beaches in Hawaii closed during the pandemic. Fagundes said that he picked up one particular father-daughter activity during that time— physical exercise.
“My daughter goes, ‘Dad, I want a six-pack,’” Fagundes said. “I said, ‘I do too, here’s how we do it’ and we have been working at it ever since.”
Fagundes also stays busy assisting in recruitment for DEVCOM AvMC at University of Hawaii job fairs. He said that his advice to the students is usually the same whether he is talking to small children, high school kids or college students.
“I usually start off with, if you want to make a difference, working for the Department of Defense and within the government is a place you can do that. Supporting the Indo-Pacific Command – we help to make the world a better place, one day at a time.”
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.