REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (April 6, 2023) – For James and Chappell Alex, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center is not just a job, it is the family business.
From their parents to Chappell’s fiancé – one with his own DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center pedigree – the Alex family has served the warfighter as members of the Army team for decades. But while they both work for the Center, the Alex siblings’ diverse careers are examples of the variety of professional opportunities available in the DEVCOM AvMC formation.
“I love being on the forefront of the new technology that we're developing here at DEVCOM AvMC,” Chappell said. "Every day I get to tackle a different interesting problem, learning along the way with some of the smartest researchers from all around the country."
James is matrixed to the Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office within PEO Aviation as a systems engineer, helping develop a modernized rotorcraft electrical power system to power the enduring and future Army Aviation fleet and enable new capabilities for the nation’s Soldiers. Chappell is a materials engineer working in the Materials Test and Characterization Branch under the DEVCOM AvMC Technology Development Directorate.
"I think that both of us were somewhat propelled into the engineering field due to us growing up in the Huntsville community, with heavy influences of math and science all around us," Chappell said.
While their destination was the same, James and Chappell took different educational paths – Chappell followed in her parents’ footsteps to the University of Alabama, earning a bachelor of science in materials engineering and a master of business administration. James, jokingly referring to himself as the “black sheep of the family,” blazed his own path in industrial and systems engineering at Auburn University, which enjoys a spirited in-state rivalry with the Crimson Tide. That rivalry extends to family get-togethers, Chappell said with a laugh.
Ask the siblings if they are competitive and Chappell will quickly respond, “Yes.” which seemed to catch James by surprise.
“I would say at one point we were very competitive,” explained Chappell. "These days, we are not as competitive as when we were in high school, we now have completely different interests and life plans."
There actually is a third Alex sibling who decided to go his own way at the University of North Alabama. While he is making his own path, Chappell and James said that they would share with him what they have learned so far – lessons that would benefit any young professional starting their career.
“Being the smartest person or having the cleverest solution is not always the best,” James said. “Really, it's about, can you communicate your solution? You must be able to communicate your ideas to others very effectively. Because if I can't understand what you are doing or why you are doing it, why am I going to spend money on trying to get it to work?”
“Luckily, here at DEVCOM AvMC, everyone is really encouraging about having a work/life balance,” Chappell added. “I don't think that all companies really maintain that attitude. The shiniest company, or the shiniest offer might not always be the best offer.
“You get the best work/life experience here in my opinion. There are great benefits to that, things beyond a paycheck.”
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.