50 Years of career opportunities and educational development

By Susan Thompson, CECOM Command HistorianFebruary 22, 2024

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CECOM and its predecessor organizations have a long history of developing programs that connect with the next generation to promote both the career and educational opportunities across the command and the Army. With focus currently on BEYA and the P-TECH program to recruit and educate people on the options available, there were earlier programs that allowed students and our broader community the ability to explore the possibilities of careers within the Army. A sampling of newspaper articles from the February/March timeframe in 1974 highlight the multitude of options available for exposing the general population to the careers and focus areas across what was then the Fort Monmouth community.

Career Exploration

A variety of careers was offered up to students in 1974, with visits to Fort Monmouth to see the diverse ways civilians and Soldiers support the Army. In cooperation with the Girl Scouts, Seniors explored careers in radio and television with a visit to the Fort Monmouth Educational Television Branch, where Lt. Patricia Richardson (a former Girl Scout) instructed several Senior Girl Scouts on the use of television cameras. The Army Signal School's Audio-Visual Communications department helped explain the options available in a future Army career for seventh and eighth graders at the Asbury Park Middle School during the 1974 Career Day program. Concentrating on the photographic courses offered by the Signal School, SFCs Herman E. Cooper and Gertrude M. Hopkins, Photo Lab instructors, Sp4 Peter J. Rooney and Brian Williams, Still Photo instructors, Sp4 Joe Teague, Motion Picture instructor, and Sp4 Cullen Woods, Audio instructor, displayed and demonstrated the various types of A-V training that were offered. The Signal School also hosted 40 high school students from upstate New York in support of Albany-area recruitment. Areas of the school visited included the museum, Educational Television, Audio-Visual, Data Communications, Radar Systems Maintenance, Radio Communications, Computerized Training Systems, Command and Leadership Company, and the WAC element of Company H. Students enjoyed trying out the various electronic equipment, listened intently to descriptions and explanations, asked knowledgeable questions, and generally displayed a keen interest in the educational opportunities offered by the Army career program.

Science Symposium

In March 1974, Fort Monmouth welcomed over 225 students from 50 regional high schools for the 12th Annual Junior Science Symposium, held in cooperation with Monmouth College (now Monmouth University.) The US Army Electronics Command sponsored the event and the first day of the symposium was located at the Hexagon Building at Fort Monmouth, which included presentation of student papers and a tour of the ECOM laboratories. The teachers and students were welcomed by MG Hugh F. Foster Jr., commander of ECOM and Fort Monmouth, after which the theme of the symposium was outlined by I.A. Balton, of ECOM, the director of symposium. During the banquet held at Gibbs Hall, the students were challenged to find solutions to the emerging energy crisis, and to search for alternatives to fossil fuels.

Educator Visits and New Techniques

Also in March 1974, more than 200 educators visited the Signal School. The group was a segment of the 10,000 delegates, representing 25 countries and all 50 of the states of the Union that attended an educational conference focusing on instructional technology.  The Commandant of the Signal School, COL Kenneth G. Ring, and Dr. Vincent P. Cieri, school educational advisor, welcomed the group and provided a presentation on the training, theory, and methodology of the Signal School with emphasis on media utilization. The Signal School explained its successful use of multi-media instruction techniques, including video instruction and self-paced learning.


Career Advancement

Along with bringing in new talent to the Army and ECOM communities, there was also continued emphasis on supporting upward mobility for existing employees under the direction of Dr. Priscilla Ransohoff, an ECOM/CECOM employee inducted into 2022 AMC Hall of Fame for her promotion of equal opportunity and continuing education. In March 1974, Dr. Ransohoff, then serving as the President of Federally Employed Women, visited Fort Huachuca to speak to employees on the upward mobility program for federal employees. New opportunities were highlighted in February 1974 with the implementation of Career Intern Programs at the Signal School, specifically for education specialists, building on the existing group of interns who were trained in management and curriculum.

As the Army moves forward with its recruitment efforts, current practices can build on the lessons from the past to continue to find and promote the values and benefits of an Army career.