WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (April 17, 2012) -- Working in the historic Watervliet Arsenal has given nearly eight generations of workers a sense of pride that may be rarely equaled anywhere in the Army. But give it to children, who participated in the Arsenal's Take Your Child to Work Day on April 12, to take that sense of pride to a higher level.
The Arsenal, with support from the Army's Benét Laboratories, opened its manufacturing operations to nearly 30 children of the Arsenal's workforce and showed them the work of skilled artisans and engineers who develop, manufacture, and sustain our nation's military with large caliber tubes and cannons. This was an opportunity that is rarely shared with the public.
"This was no small undertaking as more than 20 workers, from machinists to firefighters to engineers, provided presentations and demonstrations throughout the day," said Howard Kindell, the Arsenal's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer who oversaw the event.
"Our goal was to strengthen the bonds between the Arsenal and the Arsenal's family members," Kindell said. "And if you could measure success by the excitement shown on the kids faces, then we achieved tremendous success."
For many years, the Arsenal did not conduct a Take Your Child to Work Day, but the program was dusted off last year to gauge interest. The feedback from the kids, their parents, and from the workforce who provided demonstrations was so positive that the Arsenal leadership decided to continue the program.
The kids ranged from 5th to 12th grade, and the ratio of males to females was balanced. But whether they were 12 or 17, the smiles were universal.
Eight grade student Daniel J. Whelan IV said that he never knew much about where his mother worked.
"It was really cool," Daniel said. "Although I liked all the demonstrations, my highlight of the day was seeing a cannon tube go through the forge."
Although the importance of what the Arsenal workforce does has never been lost, it sometimes takes people from outside of the Arsenal fence line, in this case children, for the workforce to know that after nearly 200 years of providing military hardware to our nation's warfighters that what they do is still "cool."
The kids weren't the only ones who got something out of the day.
"The questions asked showed a true interest in science and technology and I think I saw one or two of my replacements in that crowd," said Timothy O'Connor, an engineering technician at Benét Labs who provided a presentation in laser scanning.
The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.
Benét Laboratories is a Department of the Army research, development and engineering facility located at the Watervliet Arsenal. It is a part of the Weapons & Software Engineering Center, Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center, which is located at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.