ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command - Army Evaluation Center leaders conducted a new ATEC System Team 101 course that concluded here May 11 and graduated personnel from two APG commands.

As with any technical workforce, it's critical to stay current with regulatory, technical and conceptual discussions pervasive in the test and evaluation field. With that in mind, ATEC developed and conducted the pilot AST 101 in May 2011 and provided students the opportunity to provide input about the course to ensure it was relevant and necessary. Following ATEC mergers and survey results from the pilot, ATEC-AEC hosted a second course this spring with 21 students from ATEC-AEC and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command filling the seats.

"The AST course provides the foundation necessary to become an effective AST chair or member," said Dr. Thomas Cao, Director's Initiatives Group director for ATEC-AEC. It focuses on the roles and responsibilities of the AST, the technical and project management skills necessary to be an evaluator or analyst, references and resources for job assistance, and the opportunity to complete practical exercises relevant to the AST function, he added.

As a capstone, students participated in a panel discussion with Brian Simmons, ATEC executive technical director; David Jimenez, AEC executive director; and Bill Adams, director of the ATEC-Operational Test Command Methodology and Analysis Directorate, to allow them interaction with senior leaders and get their perspectives on multiple topics of interest, such as the budget and Army downsizing and their impact on T&E and also integrated testing.

AST 101 strives to grow partnership competencies and improve the overall quality of the services offered here, said Jimenez, who noted that the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005 transformed the APG community significantly bringing research and development and testing and evaluation together on one campus. The course offering was briefed to senior leaders at CECOM and the Research, Development and Engineering Command to help grow these partnerships.

Working collaboratively with other commands improves technical qualifications of all T&E professionals through the sharing of resources and understanding each other's requirements, offered Cao. "We wanted students to network and provide them an opportunity to have a better appreciation of how ATEC conducts [test and evaluation]," he said.

"Communities that once interacted at a distance are now encountering themselves daily, understanding each other's mission lanes and interdependencies," said Jimenez. "The benefit to the Army is the creation of a workforce that is on the path to becoming more agile, connected and supportive of Team Army."

Connecting agency personnel helps bridge a knowledge gap that exists overall on how the Army develops material solutions and the roles of the test and evaluation community. "It's important that as we change our workforce they keep their competencies current on how test and evaluation are performed," Jimenez said.

AEC graduates of the course included: Carlos Lewis, Charles Bedard, Tan Luu, and Frank Holt from Intelligence Evaluation Directorate; Araminta Salva-Mercado; Derrick Cook; Susan Rymarz from Sustainment Evaluation Directorate; Tyler Lloyd, Doug Savick, Denise Merchant, and Christian Hill from Integrated Logistics Support Directorate; Brian Hampton and Carol Vesier from Reliability and Maintainability Directorate; Kim Bonville, Shaniqua Davis, and Rob Barnhill from Command and Control Evaluation Directorate; Aaron Lilley, Maneuver Ground Evaluation Directorate; George Knotts, Survivability Evaluation Directorate; and Brian Whitbeck, Maneuver Air Evaluation Directorate.

CECOM graduates were Keith Boegner and Robert Chamness.

AST 101 will be offered at least once a month through the end of the current fiscal year. Upcoming dates for course are June 18-22; July 16-20; Aug. 20-24; and a doubleheader Sept. 17-21 and 24-28. The ATEC G1 Training Office will announce course offerings for interested employees to register.