STEM students flock to Army hiring event at BEYA

By Jonathan Austin, Army News ServiceMarch 4, 2024

Maj. Gen. Mark Quander discusses Corps of Engineering opportunities at a job fair in Baltimore.
Maj. Gen. Mark Quander discusses Corps of Engineering opportunities at a job fair in Baltimore. To the left is De'Leon La Fleur, a civil engineer, and to the right is Charles Harris Jr., who is earning his mechanical engineering degree at Florida A&M University. The pair were among hundreds of STEM specialists considering Army engineering jobs. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Austin / Army News Service) VIEW ORIGINAL

Hundreds of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-focused students packed the Baltimore Convention Center recently to check out job opportunities with the nation’s top engineering industries, including as civilian and uniformed Army scientists.

Six commands participated in an Army career fair and hiring event as part of the 38th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards conference, also referred to as the ‘Becoming Everything You Are’ conference.

A senior at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Manbavit Kaur, exemplified the quality of students that showed up to talk with Army hiring staff.

Manbavit Kaur
University of Maryland Baltimore County senior Manbavit Kaur. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Austin / Army News Service) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I went to community college for two years; my major there was cybersecurity, but then I transferred to four-year university and now I’m doing information systems,” she said.

“When I was in high school, one of my teachers there mentioned a job at NSA regarding cyber,” she said.

The idea intrigued her.

“I was interested in Army and federal- level positions in cybersecurity, so that’s why I chose my major,” she said about her attendance at the Community College of Baltimore County.

“But then I transferred to a four-year institution, and they didn't offer a cyber program,” she said.

The four-year degree in information systems is similar to what she does in network and database design.

She also works part-time as a cybersecurity assistant at Community College of Baltimore County, and said she was ready to talk to a hiring counselor about either a government job or one with a private company that works with the military to protect the country.

Commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, Army Corps of Engineers, Maj. Gen. Mark Quander, was manning the Corps’ interview booth at the job fair, answering questions from students and recent graduates.

Quander is a former Commandant of Cadets for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the former commandant at the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

He said he understands what the students are seeking.

“I went to West Point, and I got to intern in the Corps of Engineers in the Memphis District for a summer, and I was so fascinated by the mission, and I knew I wanted to be an engineer officer. But you know, we’ve got the tactical and we’ve got the Corps side, and to be able to go back and forth, it’s kind of like, ‘choose your own adventure.’ You get to pick and choose all these varieties, wherever you want to capitalize on it.”

“The opportunities are endless, and it’s just so incredible,” he said.

He told students of the Corps’ involvement with disaster response, citing recent work in hurricane zones. “When you’re there, when people are at their worst and we’re delivering temporary power, putting on a blue roof, doing debris removal … you’re helping people, and that’s pretty neat.”

On the other hand, he pointed out the Corps of Engineers involvement with addressing saltwater intrusion into the Mississippi River, which has threatened municipal water supplies.

Quander’s aide, Capt. Briana Karayinopulos, said the Corps has a variety of options for job seekers.

Capt. Briana Karayinopulos
Capt. Briana Karayinopulos (Photo Credit: Jonathan Austin / Army News Service) VIEW ORIGINAL

“We have the broadest array of jobs that you can do. You can be in the field, and you can be with Soldiers doing demolition and all of this construction work, digging ditches, building, designing,” or you can be managing major engineering projects, she said.

A human resources specialist with the Army Test and Evaluation Command, Kim Simons was one of several on hand to support recruiting for civilian Army positions.

She and others were there for hiring and benefit questions.

She said they emailed two tentative job offers that originated through the job fair, and she expected more.

“We've had a lot of great candidates come through; great interviews, from what we're hearing,” she said.

“We do have several on the interview schedule for some of our fellows positions, which is our Intern Development Program,” she said.

Civilians seeking federal employment with the Army can get financial assistance for academic degree training programs, Simons said.

“There's also the student loan repayment program, which we can offer to new employees coming in, up to $10,000 for a three-year service agreement,” she said.

The executive director of Army Contracting Command - Redstone Arsenal, Joseph Giunta Jr. said he saw great promise in the many college and high school students who came out for events at BEYA.

“It gets me very excited, seeing how smart everyone is. They can take their degrees, they take their knowledge that they obtained from college, and they can pour it directly into work with the Army Corps of Engineers, with Army Materiel Command, with Cyber Command,” or others, he said.