REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 5, 2023) – For Dayton Malone, his journey to becoming an engineer all started at Space Camp.
Malone, a rising Auburn University senior and software engineering major, is spending summer and winter breaks interning with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center in its Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate. But for the Huntsville native, his career path started with a week at the legendary STEM camp, held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
“I'll never forget it,” Malone said. “They had a simulator where you're sitting in the cockpit of a space shuttle and you had to pilot a mission. Just seeing all the different controllers and software systems that were running on the screens around me made me realize that I could make a career out of my interest in technology and innovation.”
Malone, the son of a retired Army lieutenant colonel, was already somewhat familiar with what the Army had to offer when he attended a career fair at Auburn. Although he talked with a few other places at the fair, after meeting the DEVCOM AvMC recruiters, he set his hopes on the Center.
What sets his internship apart from all the others, Malone said, is that each time he has come back to S3I, he has a different assignment, giving him a breadth of experience with a variety of areas, from aviation to missile technology. During his current time at AvMC, Malone is working on mission planning and navigation software for the Black Hawk, Apache and Chinook helicopters, while previous assignments have included working with the Javelin missile trainer.
Malone has also been impressed by the welcoming atmosphere at the Center and how friendly and approachable the team has been, making a special point to mention mentor Jason Young and his support of Malone through his time at AvMC. He credits the open environment at S3I where he is encouraged to ask questions about not just his own work, but other programs also.
“In class, you learn how to code and do all that kind of stuff in one way. But then when you get in the workforce, it's completely different,” he shared. “I've worked hands-on with all this different equipment and all these different software platforms -- it's helped me become more well-rounded not just as a software developer, but also as a professional. Getting that experience is completely different than anything that I would find in a classroom.”
Malone was named a Department of Defense Smart Scholarship recipient in the 2023 cohort. He has one more year in undergrad and then plans to pursue a master’s degree in systems engineering. He said that his time at the Center has cemented his plans to work in the defense industry and has brought home that this career will be more than a job, it is personal.
“I can see what I'm working on will serve the goal of making sure that the Warfighter has everything that they need to make it back home. I want to make sure that little kid -- who I used to be – knows that their loved one is safe.”
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.