REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 1, 2023) – Whether she is on a D1 soccer field or on a testing ground in the desert, Ella Bonner gets the job done.
Bonner is the intelligent teaming branch radio lead for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, at their Fort Eustis, Virginia, location. She was recently recognized during a Center town hall for serving as a mentor to two students at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering.
The school, unique in the nation, is the only high school focused on the integration of cyber technology and engineering into all academic disciplines. As part of the Center and school’s partnership which began in 2022, DEVCOM AvMC team members mentored students throughout the current school year. They assisted the students in building a portfolio that included a resume and provided guidance on interviews, public speaking and various “soft skills” that will help the students navigate their futures.
Bonner had the opportunity to meet her mentees and tour the school at the program’s conclusion the same week as the town hall. She was impressed by both the school and its mission.
“I would have loved for a school like that to be in my area,” she said.
Bonner, from Chesapeake, Virginia, spent four years playing soccer for North Carolina State, before graduating with a degree in electrical engineering and joining DEVCOM AvMC. The military world was not completely new to her – her mother is a DOD civilian at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Bonner said that her love of engineering – specifically robotics – started with an introduction to engineering in high school. Her job at AvMC has expanded that interest into radio signals.
“I am the radio and comms lead for the Intelligent Teaming branch,” Bonner said. “I help manage - pretty much control which presets and firmware versions are being used - our command and control radios and voice only radios. I’m also the COR, or contracting officer’s representative, for our radio vendors.”
What AvMC has also provided her with is opportunity to travel – from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, supporting testing exercises. Long days, Bonner said, but an opportunity to work toward her long-term professional goal of becoming a subject matter expert.
When not at work, Bonner likes to keep her skills sharp on the field - these days sand soccer, although she is currently recovering from a soccer-related injury to her foot from a bicycle kick gone wrong.
The mentorship program was more than an opportunity to provide professional guidance but also just talk to the kids about different opportunities available to them – and talk a little soccer, of course. Bonner said that she was limited in internship opportunities in college because they had to mesh with her sports schedule, but for her mentees Aubrey Oberle and Elizabeth Orton – and other future engineers – she advises to take every opportunity that is available.
“Try everything. Regardless of if it's a good experience or a bad experience - any experience you can learn from.”
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.