ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — More than 550 Harford County Public School students learned about Army career opportunities from local Soldiers and civilians and saw the latest military technology and innovations during APG’s first-ever Future Force Day May 19, 2023.
The event, hosted by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, was held near the main front of the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in conjunction with morning and afternoon live fire demonstrations for APG employees and their families.
Natalie Holloway, the director of middle school innovation for Harford County Public Schools, said the students were excited to have the opportunity to go on a military installation and see hands-on demonstrations.
Holloway predicted that many students would be drawn to the robotics demos because most students had not before seen robots "on this level."
“I am confident that most of the kids attending today have not been out here [APG] and have no concept of what it looks like,” she added.
Holloway said she hopes APG Future Force Day will motivate students and introduce them to many career options in the Army.
Holloway thanked the APG personnel who made the event possible.
“We are so happy with the partnership between Harford County Public Schools and Aberdeen Proving Ground,” she said.
CECOM Public Affairs Specialist Rebecca Nappi said the Future Force Day was designed to show local students that Army careers can directly fit their own interests and passions.
“With over 200 types of Army careers, we wanted to give students a peek into some of the most unique career fields the Army offers including culinary, music, cyber, medical, simulation ops, biological/chemical defense and infantry,” she said. “From administering a tourniquet on a bleeding simulation dummy to disarming a grenade with an EOD [explosion ordnance disposal] robot to trying their hand at cooking up delectable appetizers as an Army chef, students were able to see how the possibilities truly are endless within the Army.”
During each station, the seventh to tenth-grade students were encouraged to ask the Soldiers and civilians questions about their jobs. Public Affairs Officer Steven Stover, with the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, told the students the Army is a “total team sport.” He served in the Army for more than 20 years as a Soldier and now serves as a civilian.
“The reason I serve is that it is something bigger than myself,” he told the students. “I am protecting my country from cyber criminals.”
Capt. Geno Nappi, with the 780th MI BDE and a Havre de Grace High School graduate, said the Army is paying for his graduate school tuition.
“Take advantage of everything you can; there are a lot of opportunities out there,” he said.
Avery Merkley, a 10th-grade Edgewood High School student, said she learned to administer a tourniquet on a training mannequin from Soldiers with Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.
“My dad just retired from the military and he said I should totally do it [come to the event],” she said. “I was excited, I am thinking about joining the Army, but I am not sure what I want to do, so I am going to learn more today.”
Computer engineer Brian Reed, with ATC, showed students how to operate a 310 iRobot Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle using a video game controller. The SUGV is intended for Soldiers, combat engineers and mobile explosive ordnance disposal technicians to gather data for situational awareness in critical conditions. Reed challenged the students to use the robot to transport a ball and drop it in a narrow ring.
“This event shows the students the possibilities within the STEM field,” he said. “Hopefully it gets them excited with this hands-on experience.”
Staff Sgt. Matthew Miczynski, an enlisted aide and a culinary specialist with the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence, demonstrated making bacon, lettuce and tomato bruschetta for the students. Miczynski told the students he enjoys the precision that goes into his work and serving general officers. He recently had a career change, he said, as he was originally an infantryman.
The Future Force morning and afternoon sessions concluded with a 20-minute live fire show. This demonstration highlighted “some of the workhorses of the U.S. Army’s combat brigades,” said the narrator Wayne Strine, a division chief with ATC.
APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Edmonson II welcomed the audience and encouraged them to share what they experienced by taking photos and videos for social media.
During the live fire, vehicles featured included the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle equipped with a Mk19 40mm grenade launcher, a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle with a .50-caliber machine gun and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle with its primary weapon, the M242 Bushmaster Autocannon.
The last military vehicle featured, the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, was equipped with a smooth bore 120mm cannon. This demonstration provided the loudest boom during the event, and the narrator exclaimed that he loved the sound.
“The primary mission of the Abrams is direct combat, tank on tank fights, and Abrams tanks are very, very good at that,” said Strine. “When the Abrams goes into battle, it’s not going to be a fair fight, and not fair is exactly the way we want it.”
The live fires ended with a combined arms exercise, where the systems engaged all targets. Special guests were selected to start the live fire finale by saying, “gunners, fire your weapons.”
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Chief of Staff Col. Joshua Trimble was selected to start the CEA because he is retiring after 26 years of service during the morning session. His family was also recognized for their steadfast support during his career.
Strine led the audience in a round of applause to thank Trimble and his family “for their service and commitment to preserving our freedom.”
During the afternoon CEA, Sherrie Harris, from the Aberdeen area, was selected for serving as an APG civilian for 50 years. Her husband, Donald, is a retired ATC employee.
“Sherrie is the perfect example of what you can do in a STEM career,” Strine told the students.
Harris described the experience as “really fun and meaningful.” Harris, a data coordinator, described her job as her “calling.” She has been an ATC employee since 1985.
ATC Commander Col. Timothy Matthews said the demonstration showcased just a small snippet of what they do every day. He said the students are the future and will be on the cutting-edge of tomorrow’s technologies.
“Many of our employees here have STEM background, so if you enjoyed what you saw here today, remember us when you finish out, when you need a job,” he said. “We are here for you.”
Brandon Armiger, an eighth-grade North Harford Middle School student, described Future Force Day as “pretty cool.” He said he found the day enjoyable and wants to continue exploring military career opportunities.
“My brother was in the Navy, and I plan to join the military when I am older,” he said.
For more photos, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/usagapg/albums/72177720308507140.