ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md -- Following completion of their Senior Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky, four Army ROTC Cadets from across the country were awarded a unique opportunity. The Cadets participated in the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) college internship program at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) located at the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Maryland.
During the 28-day program, the interns worked as staff officers and test engineers within several of ATC’s directorates. There, the soon-to-be Army officers were able to experience firsthand the daily processes and meet the people behind one of the most crucial testing centers for the entire U.S. Army.
Although each are pursuing different degrees at their respective universities, the Cadets worked in areas that utilized their knowledge and skills, as well as learn about the Army acquisitions functional area.
“Between touring the different test sites and testing the different equipment, this internship provides great insight into the future of the United States military,” said Cadet Isaac Ledford.
Cadet Ledford, from Ball State University located in Muncie Indiana, is studying Business Administration. His internship was with ATC’s S3 office which is commonly known as the training & operations shop.
“I have also had excellent networking and professional development opportunities from many interactions with high-ranking individuals and masters of various trades,” added Cadet Ledford, “There was never a dull day.”
One of the Cadets assigned directly to one of ATC’s several testing directorates is Cadet Matthew Stevenson from Eugene, Oregon. Cadet Stevenson is studying Mathematics at Seattle University in Washington state. Cadet Stevenson was attached to ATC’s Transportability Engineering Branch, where he assisted in Sling Load Operations testing and railway transportation inspections.
“Learning the whole process of acquisition as it pertains to the U.S. Armed Forces and how the branch fits into the bigger picture have been an amazing experience,” said Cadet Stevenson, “The people I’ve met, the projects I’ve partaken in and all that I have experienced at APG will always be in my heart and mind as I prepare to finish college and gain my commission as an officer.”
Working both in the fabrication and machine shop and in a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) lab, the next Cadet, David Word, a Las Vegas, Nevada native studying at Brigham Young University in Utah is pursuing a degree in Manufacturing Engineering.
“I shadowed a team of engineers and worked on some fabrication projects,” said Cadet Word. “I am grateful that the engineers were so helpful and willing to help and show me everything they could as to how they support their mission, and I really enjoyed seeing such a diverse variety of tasks all across ATC.”
The fourth Cadet, Carter Walton who is from Stonington, Illinois attends college at Southern Illinois University, which is located in Carbondale, Illinois. Cadet Walton is finishing a degree in Public Relations. Working with the ATC Public Affairs (PA) office, his position consisted of planning tours of test sites and equipment at ATC, as well as learning about the ins and outs of various Army Public Affairs functions.
“Learning about Public Relations in class is one thing but seeing the process in action is a much different experience,” said Cadet Walton. “I was finally able to see the lessons I’ve learned applied in a real-world scenario, and I cannot wait to share my experiences with my classmates back home.”
Outside of their specific tasks, the four Cadets were able to tour multiple test sites on post and when not on duty, engage in other fun activities during their stay such as golf, pickleball, racquetball and personal workouts. On weekends they were able to visit cities like Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
The four Cadets had an opportunity to visit The Gettysburg National Military Park while they were assigned to ATC as part of an informal “battle staff ride.” After taking a 90-minute guided tour by a National Park Service Ranger and historian, they were walked through the process of a military staff ride and their duties as a participant by one of their ATC mentors who accompanied them on the excursion.
“I’ve read about the Battle of Gettysburg before in my high school and college history classes,” said Cadet Walton, “but having the actual opportunity to walk over the same ground they marched over was amazing.”
“We wanted to show the Cadets about the excellent opportunities that they had to experience as a future Army Officer as they return to their Universities in a few weeks to complete their degrees over the next year, “ said Bruce Drake, ATC’s Civilian Public Affairs Officer.
“I was very impressed by the professionalism and can-do attitude I saw when I met with and interacted with these young Cadets and future Army officers while they were assigned to my command,” said ATC’s commanding officer, Colonel Timothy E. Matthews. “They came to us with a positive attitude and every day they kept that same positive spirit while working with their mentors, other ATC staff members and our other college interns who were in training here this summer no matter the project they were assigned.”
Following the completion of the internship this month, these Cadets will return to their ROTC programs with newfound knowledge about the Army, and a unique insight into the vigorous care and testing that the ATC team puts into making the U.S. Army’s equipment the safest, the most effective and modern.