REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Dec. 13, 2023) – Strength. Integrity. An exceptional commitment to public service.
The Presidential Rank Award is the highest recognition that can be awarded a civil servant. It is bestowed on those who make a lasting impact in their government civilian careers and are leaders in their fields. Army Senior Research Scientist Dr. Donna Joyce is now among an august few who have been awarded this honor.
“I was so honored to be nominated,” Joyce said. “I have put my heart and soul into this role, because I believe that the Protective Technologies Lab is an Army resource and asset.”
While Joyce is assigned to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, her work in hardware-based microelectronics security and reliability, advanced packaging, and advanced circuit analysis tools spans beyond the Center and oftentimes the U.S. Army. Joyce routinely joins her counterparts in the other service branches to advise the Department of Defense on the latest protective technologies – technical and security solutions that protect military assets and systems.
“Dr. Joyce is an exceptional example of what the Army expects from its Senior Technologist ranks,” said Dr. James Kirsch, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center director. “Her influence across the Department of Defense is unmatched in the areas of protective technologies and trusted and assured microelectronics. The Presidential Rank award is a great honor bestowed on only the most deserving of candidates. Dr. Joyce is certainly worthy of this honor, and we are very proud of her accomplishment.”
Joyce was appointed as an Army Senior Research Scientist in 2019 and came to the Center from the Air Force Research Lab. As the ST for protective technologies, Joyce and her team are responsible for research and development, test and evaluation, technology transition, strategic planning and resource management.
Joyce sits on the board of senior executives for the Microelectronics Commons, part of the Chips and Science Act, which funds domestic research, development, and manufacturing of semiconductors in the United States, with a goal of bringing manufacturing back stateside. Joyce and her team have made a direct contribution to on-shoring with the creation of an advanced packaging effort aimed at reshoring packaging capabilities for crucial parts in military systems.
“In FY23, we wrote an Advanced Microelectronics Packaging issue paper that was accepted for funding a $500 million program,” Joyce said. “We have a tri-service advisory board, and we are doing this for all of government. It was exciting to contribute from the technical side, to create and execute a vision and have the people at the levels of decision-making say, ‘Yes, we need to invest in that right now.’”
Beyond serving as an advisor to the highest echelon of the DOD and overseeing lab operations, a major component of Joyce’s role is outreach and building the bench of future scientists and engineers in protective technologies, through partnerships with universities. It’s a unique challenge to recruit young engineers into a career which is shrouded in the highest levels of security.
“There is a lot of on-the-job training,” Joyce said with a laugh.
Shepherding the next generation is a personal mission to Joyce as she herself, a military spouse, stepped away from her career for 17 years to raise her family.
“I realize how challenged our young workers are,” Joyce said. “They have to hold it down on the home front and if you're not well at home, you're probably not going to be well at work. That's a big focus for me, to make sure our people are taken care of, that we’re hearing what they need, and we are working with them for flexibility. We are at risk of losing our well-trained, well-qualified workforce in their thirties if we have too many restrictions.”
Joyce said that with the constantly changing protective technologies landscape, she is working to expand its career pipeline to community colleges, where there is an untapped potential workforce.
“We need people who are gifted with hands-on problem solving. We need technicians and engineers interested in hardware-based microelectronics security. If we can interest a more diverse group of people into this workforce, I think that is important.”
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.