PEO EIS kicked off the first full day of summer in force, as two leaders joined the AFCEA Belvoir chapter for its annual scholarship awards and luncheon at the Springfield Embassy Suites on June 22. Ross Guckert, program executive officer at EIS, made brief remarks during the scholarship portion of the program, while Col. Mark Taylor, project manager for Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO), delivered the keynote at the monthly luncheon.
The first part of the program honored this year’s scholarship recipients, opening with words of welcome from AFCEA Belvoir Chapter President Jim Evans to the students and their guests. AFCEA Belvoir scholarships are awarded to qualified individuals in the National Capital Region who are pursuing a degree in STEM fields at the college level; to date, the program has awarded more than $1 million to deserving candidates. This year, the chapter gave $160,000 to 63 students, with the Kevin Carroll Scholarship for Excellence — named in memory of the former EIS program executive officer — as the top prize.
During his remarks, Guckert offered words that inspired, congratulated and challenged the scholarship winners.
“Shakespeare says: ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away,’” said Guckert. “How we choose to use our gifts and ‘give it away’ is something I want you to ponder.”
Guckert shared that he has gratefully served as an Army civilian for more than 30 years, seeing this as a way of “being part of something much bigger than myself, a selfless service that I’m humbled to be a part of” — service to country, the U.S. Army, Soldiers and civilians.
Guckert congratulated the students for their accomplishments to date and urged them to look to the future and consider civilian careers in the U.S. Army, particularly in Army acquisition. He noted how much our nation needs the latest knowledge and skills in key STEM fields — to support U.S. national security interests, build out an effective military infrastructure and protect U.S. Soldiers and citizens all over the world.
Guckert cited promising Army acquisition career fields in several key areas:
- Program management
- Computer science
- Information technology
- Data science & engineering
- Cloud engineering & architecture (and other engineering capacities)
- Agile software development
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
He shared a few life tips and how to create meaningful careers by leveraging good relationships and looking for lessons, even in setbacks. After Guckert’s remarks, the AFCEA leadership team presented the scholarships to the students.
Closing out the award program, the ballroom opened up to a larger group for the AFCEA Belvoir monthly luncheon featuring keynote speaker Col. Mark Taylor, project manager for DCO. Taylor delivered a “DCO 101” presentation to a sold-out room of guests.
Taylor gave a brief overview of the programs within his portfolio and what each of them does to defend the Army’s networks from cyberspace attacks. He also provided a targeted procurement forecast and some key opportunities this summer.
Taylor emphasized the need for flexibility in acquisition, especially when it comes to requirements, funding and prototyping. He gave an overview of the 2022 acquisition strategy, types of contract vehicles the team leverages and various regulations that govern the work they do. He also touched on the congressional work that is necessary to make the process leaner, so the Army DCO team has the best of today’s software and cloud capabilities in support of U.S. Soldiers.
Top priorities in the DCO portfolio include cyber analytics and detection, to include Gabriel Nimbus, the Army’s Big Data Platform; defensive cyberspace operations mission planning; user activity monitoring; threat emulation; the defensive cyberspace operations tools suite; and forensics and malware analysis, said Taylor.