REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Dec 12, 2022) – It was another highly productive year for the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center, known as RTC. In 2022, RTC turned the focus inward, highlighting the dynamic team that is the backbone to yet another successful year.
The center focused on individual teammates, from the Active-Duty Soldier, to seasoned Department of the Army Civilians and Government Contractors supporting the Army for the first time. “Teammate Tuesdays” started from an effort to highlight engineers during Engineer Week in early summer and has continued throughout the year with weekly snapshots, written by the teammates themselves and shared internally with the workforce and on social media.
2022 was also a banner year for many of those teammates who were honored with awards and presentations in recognition of their accomplishments in support of the RTC mission.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Todd Wolfe was named the 2021 National Defense Industrial Association Army Military Tester of the Year. Wolfe was selected for this award based on his great work as an experimental test pilot and test director.
Bob Wagner, an experimental test pilot (XP) and 23-year Army Veteran, was selected as the Command Mission Personnel Employee of the Year for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, also known as ATEC. RTC is a subordinate organization under ATEC, a direct reporting unit of the U.S. Army and is responsible for developmental testing, independent operational testing, independent evaluations, assessments, and experiments of Army equipment. Wagner serves as an XP within the RTC in the Aviation Flight Test Directorate’s (AFTD) Attack and Reconnaissance Test Division.
Britney Willis was honored with a trifecta of awards early in the year. Willis was named RTC’s Employee of the Year (2021) for Mission Support, ATEC Employee of the Quarter and RTC’s Employee of the Quarter, both for fourth quarter FY21. Willis serves as the account manager within RTC's Test Program Integration Directorate for Missile Sustainment. Her area of focus is supporting all of RTC’s test execution directorates and her dedication to RTC’s Stock Pile Reliability testing is amazing. Her account is not only critical to RTC’s mission but also allows the Army to extend the life of thousands of missiles that has saved the Army more than $40 billion.
Dr. Suzanne McLendon was honored this year as the 2022 recipient of the Redstone Women Rock! Rising Star Award is sponsored by the North Alabama Chapter of Federally Employed Women. McLendon serves as a failure analyst for the Materials Analysis and Metrology Test Team in the Component Test and Analysis Test Division of RTC’s Environmental and Component Test Directorate (ECTD). Her innovative work has been instrumental in determining the root cause of material failures on multiple complex sets of U.S. Army aviation components.
Rounding out the awards recap is the 2022 for the Robert N. Turk Award, which is presented to the individual within our AFTD who made the most significant contribution to Army engineering flight test during the last year. Todd Buller provided exemplary service to RTC and the entire Army aviation acquisition community while serving as the test director for the Captive Carry Flight Test.
Congratulations to all these teammates and the many more who received honors and recognition this past year at RTC.
PROMOTIONS AND PERSONNEL:
There were several leadership changes at RTC this year.
David Elkins was selected as RTC’s new technical director and deputy commander, bringing 33 years of experience in lifecycle test and evaluation to the senior civilian position at RTC. Previously, Elkins served as an experimental developer, division chief, and most recently, the director of RTC’s Environmental and Component Test Directorate since 2015, overseeing 400 personnel across six divisions with an annual test budget of $45 million. Once Elkins assumed his new responsibilities, Collyn Mann was named director of ECTD.
In July, RTC’s AFTD held a change of command as Lt. Col. Andrew D. Rieck took the lead from Col. Joe Minor who has moved on to Program Executive Office, Aviation to lead the Fixed Wing Program Office.
Rieck commands more than 400 people across six divisions with an annual test budget of $50 million.
As the pandemic restrictions loosened, RTC safely continued outreach efforts by hosting tour groups and visiting schools. At the end of 2021, McLendon and Dr. Chase Smith shared an overview of their roles as engineers in RTC’s materials analysis lab with a group of 156 students during an Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering “Lunch and Learn” event. RTC hosted students from the school again this fall to see the labs first-hand and learn about careers at RTC.
This summer, RTC hosted two Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, educators as part of the Army educational outreach program Research Experience for STEM Educators and Teachers, known as RESET.
RESET provides teachers with summer research experiences and enhances laboratory test knowledge while at RTC. The primary goal of RESET is to reinforce teachers’ content knowledge through research experiences and interactions with U.S. Army and Department of Defense scientists and engineers. RESET funds high school and upper middle school teachers of science, math, and engineering with applicable technical experience. Sarah Cooper and Dr. Ashley Carter are the first RTC RESET participants. Engineers at RTC served as mentors to Cooper and Carter by providing time, knowledge, and expertise as they develop technical lesson plans for their students this fall.