ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Georgia Southern University leaders explored opportunities for their new engineering program with the Army during a tour of the installation Dec. 8.

Brig. Gen. Leslie Smith, commanding general of the 20th Support Command (CBRNE) at APG, invited the school's leaders. He graduated from Georgia Southern and Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1985.

Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel said he is looking for internship, scholarship and employment possibilities for his students. The school will begin offering mechanical, civil and electrical engineering degrees in the fall of 2011.

Keel said his school will provide a valuable asset to the Army - a hands-on engineer who is ready for the work place.

"Each institution produces a different flavor of engineer," Keel said. "We produce a very different type of engineer than Georgia Tech.

"A kid who comes out of mechanical engineering knows how to use a welder because they use that in their projects."

Gary Martin, executive deputy to commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, talked with Keel about partnerships in science and technology.

Martin said RDECOM is looking for talented scientists to fulfill its mission of empowering, unburdening and protecting Warfighters.

"People are our main competitive edge," Martin said. "Our ability to do what we do [comes from our employees].

"Our initiatives are how do we recruit and where do we recruit from. It is to our advantage to have academic adversity. We want people from a wide breadth of institutions."

Martin said the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program provides a prime avenue for students to connect with the Army scientific community. He said the program is equivalent to an ROTC scholarship for student scientists.

Students complete internships at an Army laboratory during summers and pay back their time as a civilian scientist after graduation. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors are eligible to apply.

Keel and Charles Patterson, Georgia Southern's vice president for research, also visited three RDECOM sub-organizations at APG - Edgewood Chemical Biological Center; Army Research Laboratory; and Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.