SAN ANTONIO -- Top-notch student athletes from across the nation are in San Antonio this week preparing for the 2010 All-American Bowl and learning about U.S. Army technology as well.

"These kids are the future leaders of our country," said Sgt. Maj. John L. Poff, the senior enlisted leader for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. "I'm excited to be here and be able to tell them about all the great technologies we're developing."

Poff represents an organization of Army civilian scientists, researchers and engineers who work round the clock to develop solutions to make "Soldiers strong, and America safe."

"These days it's all about technology," Poff said. "It's great to be here and see the looks on these kids' faces when we show them something new and exciting."

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is well represented at the annual event with a mission of showing the Army's strength through technology. Officials said one of the reasons the Army sponsors the All-American Bowl is to increase public awareness of ArmyAca,!a,,cs role in developing cutting-edge technology.

Army scientists and engineers are working on robots designed to investigate suspicious objects, acquire targets and carry heavy payloads. The Army's Future Soldier Initiative envisions futuristic scenarios for America's Warfighters complete with flame resistant clothing and forearm-mounted flexible computer displays. Future Army vehicles may be hybrids using electricity and a silent approach to their advantage. These technologies are being developed by Army civilians.

"There are career opportunities to work for the Army as a civilian," Poff said. "There are many ways to serve." Today, there are more than 50 job openings for engineers, scientists and researchers within the RDECOM team.

"We are here this week to broaden the national perception of the Army by bringing out some of the latest and greatest technology achievements that you wouldn't normally associate with the Army," said Katie Everett, RDECOM event coordinator.

Outside San Antonio's Alamodome, officials have set up what they call the "Army Strong Zone." The zone is stocked full of public displays such as robotics, high-tech vehicles and even future cooking technologies on parade.

"The technology assets are interactive," Everett said. "You can actually climb around inside the vehicles and get hands-on with some of the robots."

Beyond the demonstrations, the big show is the All-American Bowl scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. America's top high school athletes will compete in the event and come away with a sense of camaraderie and accomplishment. "They're a great group of kids," Poff said. "I'm proud to be here among them."

The Army Strong Zone will be open to the public 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9-11 a.m. Technology displays will open again from 2-5 p.m.

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