Picatinny and NJIT invite middle school girls to get excited about science and technology


PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Picatinny Arsenal and the New Jersey Institute of Technology coordinated a visit here for middle school girls to get them excited about careers in science and technology. How’d it go? You’ll have to find out yourself.

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RDECOM shares contracting opportunities at APBI

Jill Smith, acting deputy director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, discusses RDECOM’s partnerships with industry during the Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry conference at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Dec. 5.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command presented contracting opportunities Dec. 5 as part of APG’s first installation-wide Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry, or APBI, conference.

Jill Smith, RDECOM acting deputy director, provided an overview of the command and discussed how the Army’s research and development community partners with industry during her opening remarks at the Post Theater.

“Across the command, we leverage industry for about 40 percent of applied research funding,” Smith said. “RDECOM partners with industry for about 60 percent of RDECOM’s advanced technology development budget because that process involves integration, and we want industry to be prepared if we proceed to production in quantity.”

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APG organizations establish STEM agreement with Harford schools


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army is bolstering its commitment to science and math education in northeast Maryland to increase the number of students seeking high-tech careers.

Eight major APG tenant organizations agreed to a partnership Dec. 14 with Harford County Public Schools to expand educational outreach efforts in science, technology, engineering and math, commonly known as STEM.

The agreement will help increase participation and improve HCPS students’ performance in STEM and programs that expand academic opportunities, officials said.

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Aberdeen Proving Ground leaders discuss vision for STEM education outreach


About 400 middle and high-school school students from Harford and Cecil counties explored Army technology, Sept. 23, 2011, during the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Educational Outreach Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Because of Aberdeen Proving Ground’s new role as the Army’s hub for science and technology, officials say the installation has the opportunity to become a national leader in science, technology, engineering and math education outreach.

The thousands of scientists and engineers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG, should spur innovation as the Army promotes interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said Patrick Baker, who recently assumed the newly created position of APG STEM Champion.

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Army promotes science, technology opportunities to Harford students

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

BEL AIR, Md. — Eighth-grade students explored emerging global-mapping software and DNA extraction with U.S. Army scientists May 24 to boost their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM education.

The Army, technology manufacturers and universities joined about 180 eighth-graders from nine Harford County middle schools. The scientists showcased the array of career opportunities in STEM fields as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College.

Lanie Wallace, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, led students through a hands-on demonstration of extracting DNA from a strawberry. She explained the range of applications for DNA research, including medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural.

Mary Doak, ECBC’s community and educational outreach manager, said the country needs students to pursue STEM careers because a large number of scientists and engineers are nearing retirement age.

At ECBC, 44 percent of employees are eligible for retirement within 10 years, Doak said. The Department of Defense has 35,000 scientists, 56 percent of whom can retire within eight years.

Wallace, who attended Edgewood middle and high schools, has started work on a doctorate degree, which is paid for by the DoD through the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program.

Doak encouraged the students to pursue DoD-sponsored scholarships and internship programs, including SMART; Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Sciences, or GEMS; Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SEAP; and eCYBERMISSION.

Matt Sparaco, a computer scientist with U.S. Army Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, demonstrated the Command and Control Multitouch Enabled Technology, or COMET, to Patterson Mill Middle School students.

The COMET is a large touchscreen computer that can be mounted vertically to a wall or set up horizontally like a table. Sparaco said CERDEC is developing software to track Soldier patrols, detect enemy fire and view damage from natural disasters.

Students explored the COMET by locating local landmarks using the mapping feature to create fictional scenarios.

Sparaco said researchers are also hoping to add facial-recognition software to allow Soldiers to take a photo with a smartphone or tablet and identify potential enemies. He said the Army plans to transition the software to flexible displays that Soldiers will wear on their uniforms during combat operations.

Picatinny engineer goes international for science

Picatinny Arsenal engineer Lauren Armstrong atop Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the fifth day of a science exchange aimed at increasing the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — As one of only eight U.S. women scientists selected for a science exchange program with Brazil, Picatinny Arsenal engineer Lauren Armstrong is helping to promote greater participation by women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Retention of women in advanced science is very low, both in the U.S. and Brazil,” Armstrong said.

“While the graduation rates for men and women in hard sciences are nearly equal, the gender gap is significant in upper-level positions.”

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Married Army scientists bolster biological-threat detection

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A married couple, both U.S. Army research biologists, is working together to improve Soldiers’ ability to detect, identify and protect against potentially lethal biological threat agents.


Jody and Mark Gostomski’s research at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, helps the Soldier defend against hazards in the field.

Mark works with dangerous organisms in ECBC’s Biosafety Level 3,. or BSL-3, laboratory, which is one of 45 in the country. He dons sophisticated protective equipment in highly controlled lab conditions to prepare the Army for worst-case biowarfare scenarios.

“We’re dressed head to foot in a Tyvek suit. We have a powered air-purifying respirator,” he said. “Everything we do is double-gloved. BSL-3 organisms are live, and they are higher risk.

“A requirement for Biosafety Level 3 is at least the opportunity to be vaccinated against different organisms — hepatitis, anthrax, botulism.”

Mark is researching the validation of a DNA extraction kit that will replace two kits, which will help streamline the bio detection process.

Jody manages a project to supply genomic material for the Critical Reagents Program. Her role in CRP is to provide high-quality and validated reference materials for use in the development and optimization of biological-detection technologies.

She plans laboratory activities, conducts quality control analysis on the material, and interacts with external agencies.

“It shows how collaboration among members of different branches really comes together and makes for a better product for the customer. For this project, we grow and isolate materials in the laboratory, at both the Biosafety Levels 2 and 3,” she said.


Mark and Jody say that while they are focused on their daily research in the laboratory, it is imperative to remember the end-users — Soldiers.

“It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. We do our job, and a lot of times we don’t think about who it impacts,” Mark said. “The work we do is ultimately for the Soldier.”

“The project I’m working on will help the Soldiers rapidly identify biothreat agents using the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Identification System,” he said. “They can find a sample in the field [and] process it through this kit in a matter of minutes. Within an hour, they have their data.”

Jody echoed Mark’s focus on empowering and protecting the Soldiers and Army civilians who will rely on the equipment’s scientific foundation during a mission. She helped train members of the 20th Support Command and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives) Analytical and Remediation Activity.

“It’s easy to forget how your job impacts the warfighter,” Jody said. “When you’re in the lab in your own little space, it’s hard to see how that has a profound impact on the overall mission.

“I’ve had the opportunity to train mobile-lab users who go into the field. They may or may not be Soldiers, but they’re on a mission to collect samples and ultimately protect against any type of biowarfare agent.”

Jody said the opportunity to interact with end-users has expanded her understanding of the mission.

“I got to step outside of my laboratory setting and take the expertise and knowledge that I learned by working with these biological platforms [to] stand in front of a room of physical scientists and show them how to use these technologies,” she said.


The couple met in 2004 when Jody joined ECBC after graduating with a bachelor of science in biology from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. They both work for the BioSensors Branch within the BioSciences Division.

Jody said that Mark served as one of her mentors. He started working for ECBC 13 years ago while attending Towson University; he graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of science in biology.

“We really got to know each other throughout the course of five years of working together. We built a very strong friendship, both inside and outside of work,” Jody said.

They married in May 2011.

“What I really like about working with Mark is the reason that he and I became such good friends before we got married,” Jody said. “He is just a great sounding board. He is always the person I would go to when I had issues in the laboratory.

“If I had questions or needed help troubleshooting something, he was always my go-to guy. He always resolved my problems.”


Jody and Mark encourage young students to explore science outside the classroom to see whether it would be a strong career fit. They are both studying for master’s degrees in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University.

“As I got to college and had more experience in the laboratory, it was interesting to take what you were learning in the textbook and see that come to life through experiments in the laboratory,” Jody said. “I liked how hands-on it could be.

“If you have an interest in a science or engineering field, take every opportunity to become as exposed to those fields as you can with an internship at the college level or a shadowing experience in high school. Do something to get away from the textbook and actually get into the field where they’re using the technologies that you’re learning about,” she added.

Baltimore students discover Army technology


BALTIMORE — The inquisitive minds of about 300 local students examined, inspected and explored the science and engineering that supports U.S. Army Soldiers.

During the Innovative STEM Conference, the 2012 Maryland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium’s first event over three days, Aberdeen Proving Ground research and development organizations displayed their contributions to America’s Soldiers.

Morgan State University hosted the expo March 8 at its Hill Field House.

Carl White, associate dean of MSU’s School of Engineering, said the event is an important step in showing students how their academic achievement is critical to the country’s future.

“It’s really important for these kids to understand that the future of the country relies on them. Technology is what drives our country,” White said. “For us to be on the top and be competitive, we have to get these kids engaged early in math, science and engineering.”

White said that MSU invests heavily in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, outreach efforts in 12 Baltimore high schools through after-school programs and mentoring.

Army scientists showed students how they use the principles in STEM courses — math, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science — to design, build and test everything that Soldiers will need for a mission. They displayed protective masks and vests, helmets, armor, night-vision devices, power sources and battery chargers.

Lt. Col. Quentin Smith, with U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, leads a project for network modernization. He said the military will depend on today’s students to build future high-tech equipment for America’s defense.

“The Army has to invest in science and technology,” Smith said. “We have to invest in the education of our young people to pursue these technical professions because our future relies on it.

“To be able to build out the new network architecture and have the force of the future, it’s primarily dependent on the younger generation having a passion for mathematics and science to develop and mature the technologies that are going to be required.”

Joseph Bryant, a senior at Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business and Law in Baltimore, plans to study business management at Coppin State University or enlist in the Army.

“I’ve learned that math and science apply to everything in life. It applies to the Army. It applies to getting a job in the future. It applies to everything you could ever do,” Bryant said.

White said he hoped to demonstrate to students that while they are the consumers of today’s electronics, cell phones and computers, they can be the technology innovators of tomorrow by pursuing STEM fields.

“The benefit of this is to expose [students] early to all the different types of technology. It’s to let them interact and engage, touch and feel the technology,” White said. “They can understand that one day they can be the inventors, engineers, mathematicians or scientists that produce this technology.”

Army exhibitors at the expo included eCYBERMISSION, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Army Research Laboratory, CERDEC, Aberdeen Test Center and APG Veterinary Clinic.

Army scientist readies Soldiers’ masks for chem-bio hazards

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soldiers’ protective masks must be ready for the unforeseen hazards of combat. The U.S. Army relies on the scientists of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to design, engineer and test these critical items.


Jadey Pareja, an ECBC chemist, leads five scientists in the Protective Equipment Test Branch who test and analyze the carbon materials that will be integrated into mask filters. Her team aims to provide the scientific platform that shields America’s protectors.

“Our mission within our team is to protect our protectors,” Pareja said. “Everything we do within these walls is eventually going to be fielded to the Soldier.

“If we don’t do something properly or miss one tiny step, it could ultimately affect the life of someone protecting our country.”

Pareja, the carbon team leader, and her colleagues test individual- and collective-protection systems for joint-service programs. They ensure the carbon components meet the requirements for equipment fielded to Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors.


Pareja said she developed a passion for chemistry with the encouragement of her parents and teachers.

“Several teachers in middle and high school were not only there to teach you but to support you,” Pareja said. “I’ve always been a math and science hands-on person. I needed to be active and in the lab. I started working in a pharmacy when I was 16 as a junior pharmacy technician, and I loved it. I loved learning about all the chemicals, what drugs were made out of, everything about it.”

Pareja graduated from Edgewood High School and hoped to become a pharmacist after earning a bachelor of science in chemistry from Stevenson University in Baltimore County. However, she returned to the area after college to work at APG in 2002. She worked as a contractor until ECBC hired her in 2005.

“Shortly before going to pharmacy school, I decided it wasn’t the avenue I wanted to pursue. I wound up working at the place where I grew up,” she said. “Here I am working in Edgewood.”


Pareja stressed the strong bonds between scientists and engineers allow ECBC to deliver the best products to the field. Her group complements the work of the permeation and mask teams within the Protective Equipment Test Branch to provide protection from chemical and biological hazards.

“The mask team will test the masks as a complete end item with the carbon filter on them. We also have the permeation team that tests the actual material — suits, boots, gloves — that the Soldier will wear in the field,” she said.

The carbon team conducts several tests on M-18 and M-12 filters and C2A1 and M-61 canisters, Pareja said. It also taps into the wide knowledge base of subject matter experts across ECBC’s three directorates.

“We do a lot of routine testing, which has been designed by the Research and Technology Directorate. We work a lot of hands-on, side-by-side with them,” she said. “Once they perfect a method, they pass it on to us.

“There is a lot of interaction between the research side and engineering side. We rely heavily on their expertise.”

APG Leadership Cohort kicks off third year

APG leadership cohort kicks off third session

Gary Martin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command executive deputy to the commanding general, speaks March 22 during the kickoff to APG Leadership Cohort.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Budget constraints are the most important issue that APG’s senior leaders will face in the near future, the installation’s senior civilian said March 22.

Gary Martin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command executive deputy to the commanding general, kicked off the third session of APG Leadership Cohort with remarks to the participants.

“Cohort is more important now than when we started it a couple of years ago,” Martin said. “The leadership we need here [at APG] and in the Army is driven by the fiscal realities of what we’re facing as a country.”

For more, go to http://go.usa.gov/22o

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APG leadership briefs Congressional staffers

 APG leaders brief Congressional staffers

APG senior commander Maj. Gen. Nick Justice talks with staff from Maryland’s Congressional delegation March 30 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The installation is quickly becoming the U.S. Army’s hub for science and technology, APG senior commander Maj. Gen. Nick Justice told staff from Maryland’s Congressional delegation March 30.

“This place will be the biggest success story in BRAC,” Justice said, referencing base realignment and closure that is bringing thousands of high-tech jobs to northeast Maryland.

Representatives of U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and U.S. Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Andy Harris and Roscoe Bartlett gathered at the Berger Laboratory Complex at the start of their APG tour.

For more, go to http://go.usa.gov/2pi

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APG leader encourages students to pursue careers in science

APG leader encourages students to pursue careers in science

Gary Martin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command executive deputy to the commanding general, speaks during the Futures 11 conference March 24 at Harford Technical High School.

BEL AIR, Md. — The future of Harford County gathered March 24 at Harford Technical High School to explore their education and careers.

About 800 high-achieving 11th-grade students from Harford Technical, Joppatowne, Aberdeen, Bel Air and Edgewood high schools attended the Futures 11 conference to prepare for the next phase of their lives.

For more, go to http://go.usa.gov/2ZZ

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AMC employment program offers opportunities

Employment program offers opportunities

Keyla Kelly was a Soldier in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division when an accident left her unable to continue her service in uniform and uncertain what the future would bring.

“In the Wounded Warrior program, we were visited by a representative of the Always A Soldier program,” she explained. “He was an amputee. He told us about a program for veterans interested in serving as civilian employees after discharge sponsored by the Army Materiel Command.”

The Always A Soldier program provides disabled veterans opportunities to seek employment within AMC.

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Maryland Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium set for March 11-13

The U.S. Army is preparing to support the 2010 Maryland Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium March 11-13 at Morgan State University and the Baltimore Marriott Hunt Valley North.

The event will focus on connecting students with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics opportunities, also known as STEM. At the Morgan State Hill Field House March 11, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command will feature technology demonstrations and meet with students.

The field house activities will include an interactive exhibit hall featuring cutting-edge technologies from the U.S. Army, The U.S. Office of Patent and Trademarking, and the All American Soapbox Derby. Officials will discuss STEM career opportunities, educational opportunities for graduating high school seniors, include robotics competitions and displays, and research training workshops for students looking to participate in future STEM events.

March 12-13, the symposium will be at the Baltimore Marriott Hunt Valley North. The event will feature high-level research presentations from some of Maryland’s brightest high school students in the areas of Life Science, Behavioral Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology.

Army officials, including RDECOM Executive Deputy to the Commander Gary Martin and Aberdeen Proving Ground Deputy Installation Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz, will speak to students. “STEM education is the key to the future,” said RDECOM spokesperson Robert DiMichele. “There are many scholarships and career opportunities, plus a chance to make a contribution to the national defense working for the United States Army.”

DiMichele said thousands of high-tech jobs are coming to the Aberdeen Proving Ground area in the next couple of years as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. “Transformation is making Aberdeen Proving Ground into the Army’s center for Science, Engineering and Technology,” he said.

“The Innovative STEM Conference is designed to dispel the myth that STEM careers are too difficult and to expose the participants to the plethora of opportunities that come with STEM careers,” said Dr. Carl White, ISF founder and Morgan State University Associate Dean of the School of Engineering.

Video: RDECOM makes 17 job offers at conference

vimeo DoDLive RDECOM makes 17 job offers

The Army Research, Development and Engineering Command offered 17 people jobs on-the-spot at the 2010 Black Engineer of the Year Award conference at the Baltimore Convention Center February 19th and 20th. Army Technology Live’s David McNally has this report!

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