REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2022) - It was a big summer for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Gary Ballard.
First, he was named acting technical deputy for life cycle engineering in the Center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, after his predecessor, Miranda Oden, moved into the S3I acting director role. Second, he was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara at S3I’s town hall, “a complete surprise,” Ballard said.
But finally, and most importantly, Ballard became a grandpa for the second time.
While the deputy position might not be quite as fun as a new grandbaby, Ballard is still enthusiastic about his new role at DEVCOM AvMC.
“I am excited to learn more,” Ballard said. “If you look at Miranda’s portfolio, she has software and systems integration, which is my area – software development and hardware-in-the-loop. She has modeling and simulation, which I am somewhat familiar with, because I used to work in that world, and then she has Prototype Integration Facility. For me, this is an opportunity to learn more about the PIF and look for synergy between the three functional areas.”
The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara is awarded by the United States Field Artillery Association to air and missile defense professionals who have excelled in their careers. Ballard has been with AvMC for close to 20 years and if you look at the programs he has worked on, it is an expansive list that includes many of the U.S. Army’s marquee weapons systems, from Terminal High Altitude Area Defense to Ground-Based Midcourse Defense -- not to mention his work with NASA before AvMC.
Ballard grew up in a small South Alabama town, the son of a logger. His early affinity for math led him toward engineering and Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and master’s degree in aerospace engineering.
“I knew I didn’t want to stay in a small town my entire life,” Ballard said. “I knew I had to market myself better and it is a credit to my parents – especially my mom – to push me into doing that.”
Even though Ballard’s technical know-how is expansive, that is not what motivates him.
“It’s the people,” he shared. “Early in my career it was about the technical work and I enjoyed doing that. But now it’s about helping people, mentoring and putting them in positions where they can be successful.”
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.