‘One internship might change what you want to do in life’ West Point cadet interns at Aviation, Missile Center

By Haley Myers, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public AffairsJuly 21, 2022

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (July 21, 2022) – “We’re trying to convince him to be a rocket scientist instead of a pilot.”

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

West Point Cadet Ethan Bremner is a high-flyer. As a high school student in a small town in Minnesota just south of the U.S. – Canada border, with the world at his feet, Bremner was considering his options when his grandfather recommended the U.S. Military Academy.

Now, he has a full plate studying mechanical and civil engineering at West Point with a minor in aerospace. His internship under the Advance Individual Academic Development Program, a graduation requirement, led him to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center for the summer.

“This is my first experience being in any kind of job field, military or not. AvMC is a massive place, and seeing how the different programs and sections work together is probably one of the coolest parts, especially the separate care of explosives and how they interact with each other through each step,” Bremner said.

But there’s a plot twist: his internship isn’t only tied to mechanical and aerospace engineering. It also has aspects of chemistry and shock physics, and is designed around rocket propulsion and explosives; which gives him opportunities to learn about the discipline’s application to Army missile systems.

“One of the things we are trying to do is get Ethan visibility end-to-end what it takes to meet the mission of a missile system,” explained Dr. Robert Little, DEVCOM AvMC’s Technology Development Directorate Propulsion Engineering division chief. “Ethan has the chance to see some other elements of a missile beyond just rocket propulsion. This gives him an understanding of the system as a whole: what IT system requirements are, what its target sets are, its effectiveness, and, most importantly, how the user sees this weapon system in application.”

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Little has been Bremner’s guide and mentor throughout his time at AvMC. One of his goals is to convey the concept of ‘cradle-to-grave’ with military systems and the importance of each step, from early production and development, through sustainment, to the demilitarization process.

“There are specific skill sets that you have to have in the ammunition and explosives mission area,” Little said. “The important thing is when you, as a Soldier, climb into the cab of that M-142 HIMARS and you go to push the button, you don’t have to know all the magic that’s inside. You just have to have the confidence that it’s going to work every time you push that button. That is the mission of our organization.”

When it comes to field application, though, Bremner spends his free time in a more colorful way: paintballing with the West Point Paintball Club. He grew up spending time outdoors and enjoys cross-country skiing when he finds weather that isn’t the sweltering heat of Alabama. All in all, though, the time he’s spent at AvMC this summer, Bremner said has been worth the battle with the heat.

“You’re not going to have these experiences anytime else in your life and that alone I think prompts you. This has been a great experience. Plus, you never know – one internship might change what you want to do in life.”

“Hopefully we will still have the opportunity to convince you to be a rocket scientist at some future point,” Dr. Little shared with a twinkle in his eye. “And that’s the investment.”


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.