Innovative and creative research is what Alabama A&M University’s Division of Research and Economic Development strives for. Similarly, the U.S. Army Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Activity on Redstone Arsenal also focuses on innovation as one of their many responsibilities.
The two institutions, located roughly 12 miles apart, came together Aug. 25 to discuss possible collaborations that could see the brightest young minds impacting the U.S. Army in the near future.
The AAMU delegation, led by Dr. Zhengtao Deng, dean and professor of the College of Engineering, Technology and Physical Sciences, Dr. Majed El-Dweik, vice president of research and economic development, and Dr. Andrew Scott, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, met with Mike Todd, deputy director of the Army Primary Standards Laboratory at USATA, to discuss their collective capabilities and unique offerings.
During the discussion, the two groups quickly realized the obvious connection between a top engineering educational institution and the Army’s premier test, measurement and diagnostic equipment calibration activity.
“USATA employs a variety of STEM career fields,” Todd said. “We now have a first-in-the-Army Fellows Program for wage-grade calibrators.”
Army Fellows Programs are designed to attract, recruit and hire top civilian talent. A typical fellowship is developmental in nature and blends progressive and sequential work assignments, formal training and self-development as individuals progress from entry-level positions to more advanced key positions within the workforce.
“Workforce development is a primary activity at AAMU,” El-Dweik said. “We see great potential for our collaborations.”
Education and training were a big focus of the meeting as the two groups shared similar stories of what it takes to succeed in a STEM career field.
“We are one of only 15 Historically Black colleges and universities with engineering accreditation,” Deng said.
“We’re always looking for students with engineering backgrounds,” Todd replied. “We want to find the best.”
Another topic discussed was AAMU’s RISE Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on research, innovation, science and engineering. It is a contracting hub between AAMU and its governmental and industrial partners, and its mission is to secure government contracts for research and development, thus fulfilling the needs of government agencies.
“In addition to internship and job programs, RISE students learn to write a resume, how to address a general officer and other protocols,” Scott said. “We seek to integrate Department of Defense culture within the students.”
Scott also said he would like to see USATA personnel lead technical lectures for the RISE students.
“We’re always seeking professional lecturers and having representatives from the testing center would be very appropriate,” he said.
After the meeting, the group toured the expansive USATA laboratory, much to the delight of the AAMU delegation.
“Everything that we learned here was new to us,” El-Dweik said. “Our team was not aware of such a great operation that is so relevant to our research.”
Both groups committed to continue seeking ways to collaborate on future projects, as it became clear that a natural partnership exists with a similarly focused end goal.
“The most important thing to us is finding opportunities for our students,” Deng said. “And there are opportunities here.”