REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 5, 2024) – The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center was Daryoush Salehi’s first choice.
As a young Auburn mechanical engineering student, Salehi was at the point in his schooling where he needed to obtain an internship. He interviewed at several places but upon touring the Center, he knew it was different – someplace special, he said. It then became a waiting game, as he nervously held off other offers with the hope that AvMC would have a place for him. Finally, one day while he was in class, the call came.
“I felt like I got very lucky,” Salehi said. “It was maybe predestined, but I've been very fortunate.”
Two decades later, that foresight paid off and Salehi is now the division chief for the Power and Control Systems Development Division under the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Technology Development Directorate. In 2023, he was selected as the representative from TDD to the Distinguished Leadership Program at the Center’s higher headquarters, DEVCOM. While working on the year-long initiative, he was also tapped for a six-month developmental assignment as associate director in TDD.
“Daryoush Salehi is a tremendous asset to AvMC and TDD,” said TDD Director Christi Dolbeer. “He is bright, hardworking, reliable and great to work with. He also demonstrates concern for others in mentoring and helping people just however he can.”
While Salehi has risen the ranks of his division, the two simultaneous leadership assignments were a new challenge in unfamiliar territories, he said, broadening his scope on how the Center fits into the larger Army research and development ecosystem. It’s a view that wasn’t always visible in his day-to-day role.
“It’s such a fast-paced job. You do get focused on what you're doing. Because it's so encompassing, there's no time in the day to look beyond your main objectives. I have gone from working from paper designs to trade studies all the way to being on the range, firing off missiles and seeing them perform as intended - or not. But always learning something.”
While in the DLP, Salehi met with DEVCOM senior leaders and collaborated on projects with his counterparts at the other DEVCOM centers. Having that exposure to varied leadership styles and skills came in handy sooner than he thought as he stepped into the associate director role at TDD, while his predecessor Dr. Stephanie Reitmeier was on assignment. He had briefly held the role for a short period before, but this time, the six-month length gave Salehi the opportunity to “make some waves.”
“It was a great challenge,” Salehi said. “The first time I did it, I got a chance to see a little bit of the workings of the front office, see how things operated there. And now I got to be a lot more involved as part of the decision process for a lot of things.
“Although I did have the confidence in knowing that if I broke anything, Stephanie was going to be back,” Salehi said with a laugh. “I wasn't too scared about that. It was a lot of responsibility with some strategic development -- and it was great to have the opportunity to drive some of that too.”
After a busy year, Salehi is back in Power and Control Systems Development, but with some leadership lessons that he says will serve him and his team well. He still remembers what it was like to be that young co-op student, and now it is his turn to shepherd the next generation of subject matter experts.
“I have had the benefit of my career to work with some of the brightest minds, I think, as well as just really good people -- great leaders,” Salehi said. “Leaders who have taken the time to help me. I can now do the same thing, pay it forward for some of our younger engineers.”
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.