With its recent move from Huntsville’s Research Park to Redstone Arsenal, the Defense Acquisition University is right at its customers’ doorstep.
DAU began working out of its newly renovated Arsenal home in July, said Chris Black, facilities manager and deputy operations director.
For a number of reasons – including the expired lease on its commercial building on Old Madison Pike, construction at the new location and the pandemic – employees had not been together at a physical location for quite a while.
But today the campus, which is comprised of three former WWII era warehouse buildings that are now seamlessly connected, is home to about 80 full-time employees.
Black reached out to the Rocket last month in hope of getting information about the provenance of the repurposed warehouse-style buildings located between Kingfisher and Holly roads.
“I was hoping that with your contacts you could help us discover our history and at the same time, it might make a great article for you,” he said in an email.
In fact, the buildings were first used for the manufacturing of war equipment, said Kaylene Hughes, AMCOM historian.
“We don’t have much specifically about what went on in the buildings,” she said, noting that they were part of “Plants Area” of the Huntsville Arsenal during World War II.
Ben Hoksbergen, cultural research manager at the Garrison, had a little more information.
“Those buildings were all constructed in 1942 and were part of the Smoke Munitions Filling Plant 1 in World War II,” Hoksbergen said. “3465 was a box-making facility; 3470 was for boxing, marking and painting munitions; and 3471 was for assembling, painting and packing M1 smoke pots.”
Stepping into the building today, you’d never know you were in such a historic place, Black said of the 40,000 square foot campus.
“Everything is brand new,” he said, adding that the facility is comprised of modern offices and cubicles, classrooms and conference rooms.
Known as “the corporate university for the Department of Defense’s acquisition workforce,” DAU offers the training courses that lead to certification for professionals in the functional areas of systems acquisition such as program management, contracting, and life cycle logistics, among others.
The university is also known for the mission-oriented assistance it provides to program management offices.
DAU has five regional campuses in various parts of the country, including the South Region in Huntsville, which was established in 2001. A satellite campus at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida is also part of the South Region structure.
Mark Lumb, dean of DAU-South, said being full-fledged members of Team Redstone has always been a DAU goal.
“Staff and faculty are hard at work providing training and support to acquisition customers across the 13-state South Region,” Lumb said, adding that an official Grand Opening event is planned for the Arsenal campus in early to mid-2023.
Having facilities on post creates built-in added value to the people it serves, Black said.
“It puts us closer to our customer base,” he said. “We’re embedded with the community now.”