By Ms. Deborah Elliott (RDECOM)October 14, 2010
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The science and technology hub the Army planned when it placed these capabilities here through the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 is now coming together as Army and industry open new facilities on the installation and put the hub structure in place.
Members of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association engaged in the transformation of APG met Oct. 13 to hear how Army and industry can synchronize efforts to develop the workforce needed to bring the total change about.
Gary Martin, Executive Deputy to the Commander at the Research, Development and Engineering Command headquartered at APG, made the lunchtime presentation.
"The Ordnance Center and School that was once such a prominent feature here at APG is gone," he said. "The Army Environmental Command has moved to its new home at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. New organizations - the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense and several others either are here or are on their way."
The ripple effect of BRAC at APG has been felt by everyone, said Martin - not only those whose mission was moved, but also those who remain.
"Members of the workforce who are staying here, who once were the intellectual capital and future workforce of their organizations, are moving on to new opportunities," he said.
This presents a particular challenge to the APG community in terms of workforce development.
"The administrative-type positions that used to be here are being replaced by high tech positions," said Martin. "When all is said and done there will be 23,000 positions here at APG."
Of those positions approximately 6,000 will be filled by Department of the Army Civilians. The rest will be provided by government contract support.
Recruiting and developing this workforce is a priority and a challenge for the entire community, according to Martin.
RDECOM, the Army's leader in science and technology development, has a well-established education outreach program that includes cooperative research and development agreements with universities; participating in national-level science, technology, engineering and mathematics competitions and conferences; and mentoring grade K-12 students in community schools.
The command is also working to bring programs and training to the local community college tailored to the need for science and technology capability.
Martin said Army and AFCEA members together can maximize the impact of their respective education outreach efforts to meet workforce development needs.
"Right now we are all taking different approaches and working at different levels of engagement," he said. "We need to standardize and strategize what we are doing."
The Aberdeen AFCEA chapter would be a formidable ally in the effort. The chapter, which only a year ago had only 30 or so members now has grown to well over 100, and is a microcosm of Aberdeen Proving Ground's future.