Research specialist relishes being team’s problem solver

By Katie Davis Skelley, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public AffairsMarch 11, 2024

Claire Rumpanos works in the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Moffett Field location.
Claire Rumpanos works in the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Moffett Field location. (Photo Credit: Haley Myers, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (March 11, 2024) – Imagine a library of the last 50 years of rotorcraft innovation – Claire Rumpanos doesn’t have to imagine, she is building it.

Rumpanos is a research specialist in the Technology Development Directorate at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, although jack-of-all trades might be more accurate. Rumpanos handles operations for AvMC’s California-based Design, Simulation & Experimentation team, located at Moffett Field on the NASA Ames campus.

Rumpanos is a Santa Cruz, California native, born and bred. And although it makes the commute to NASA Ames a longer one, for Rumpanos it is worth it for her home’s proximity to the beach. But what is also worth the commute is the work, she said. Rumpanos came on board initially as an intern in 2015 after graduating from Sonoma State University with a business administration degree with a concentration in marketing management. When a permanent position later opened, it was a no-brainer, even if the role did not exactly match up with her degree.

“I don't really have a correct title because I do a little bit of everything here,” Rumpanos said with a laugh.

Rumpanos provides logistical support when the branch has leadership and distinguished visitors on site, coordinating all the moving parts – of which there are many -- and communication between those parts. Oftentimes, she spends her days troubleshooting at one location, only to be called to a different site for support. Add to that, she is currently overseeing some modernization efforts for the branch’s buildings. She said that what she enjoys about her role and her leadership has given her the autonomy to identify a problem and then go solve it.

“Yesterday, today and tomorrow are never going to be the same day,” Rumpanos said.

Building an online repository that will hold many of the breakthroughs in Army aviation science and technology has been a challenge, but one that she has relished, Rumpanos said. While aeronautics and rotorcraft professional organizations have some copies of research presented, oftentimes AvMC possesses original copies or unique reports not found among the professional societies. Frequently this will include technical papers, reports and even technical books, authored by team members.

“The conference or society have their copies, but we also have copies and I've found a huge gap going through the stuff that we have that they don't have on their website,” she said.

While Rumpanos is one of the younger members of the team – joking that much of the documents she is reviewing for the library are older than she is – almost a decade has passed since she was an AvMC intern. She has advice for the newest members of the team, some that everyone needs to hear every once in a while: it’s okay to mess up.

“So, you made a mistake, can you salvage it? Mistakes are how you learn,” Rumpanos advised. “It's not a bad thing if you don't know the answer. Still ask the question.”


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.