Scientist begins Army career, protects nation against chemical warfare agents


Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, handles, synthesizes, purifies and destroys chemical agents.


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A recent college graduate moved from Texas to Maryland so he could work with the best scientists in the field of chemical defense.

Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said his position allows him the best opportunity to use classroom principles for real-world applications.



Educating with aqua-bots

This underwater robot was built by students younger than 16 years of age. Imagine what they'll build when they graduate from college.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Were you building robots before you turned 16? A select number of students who participated in our summer educational outreach program did just that.

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American students from China in Army science competition

The RADIANS team from the Shanghai, China were the eighth-grade winners of the Southeast region of the Army's eCYBERMISSION science competition.

The RADIANS team from the Shanghai, China were the eighth-grade winners of the Southeast region of the Army's eCYBERMISSION science competition.

One of the cooler stories to come out of this year’s eCYBERMISSION competition judging and awards event was that of the first team to travel all the way from China to compete in the finals.  Students from any U.S. school – whether it’s public, private, a home-school environment or a Department of Defense Education Activity school abroad – can compete. The team in this story came from the Shanghai American School in San Jia Gang, Pudong, China. More photos of the team and all their competitors are on our Flickr site. We have a video up next week.

At RDECOM we are keenly aware of the need for increased student involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in the U.S.. That’s why the Army sponsors the eCYBERMISSION science competition and we’re so proud to execute it. As the Army’s R&D team we know that these children really may be out future.

This was the eCYBERMISSION’s tenth anniversary judging event, which is a significant milestone in the fulfillment of the Army’s vision for this program and STEM as a whole.

Student robotic challenges also place emphasis on teamwork

The Roxbury Township basketball robot takes a shot at the basket during a recent FIRST Robotics Competition. Standing in back cheering in a red jumpsuit, his right arm raised, is Shahram Dabiri, the Roxbury team coach and mentor. Dabiri is also the DoD Ordnance Technology Consortium Technology Manager at Picatinny Arsenal.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Eight high school robotics teams mentored by engineers at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) competed March 31st to April 1st at the Mount Olive High School in some friendly robot basketball.

The teams participated in a competition called “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST), which challenges student teams to design, build and compete against one another with…

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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.

During assessment, Soldiers prefer lighter machine gun

An Air Force range control officer at Marine Corps Base Quantico fires the LSAT LMG for the very first time.

QUANTICO, Va. — A military utility assessment held at Fort Benning, Ga., in September 2011 has concluded that all participating Soldiers immediately noticed the reduced weight of a prototype light machine gun and most would prefer it to the current squad automatic weapon used in battle.

The light machine gun (LMG) is part of the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT) program at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal.

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Picatinny Arsenal employees expand support to New Jersey’s junior scientists

Symposium entrant Elizabeth Dente gives a presentation at the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium on her project,"Benzoin-Based Complex for Skin Repair." Below, listening to Dente's right is ARDEC Director Dr. Gerardo Melendez.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — In the months preceding their annual events, planners for the 2012 Rutgers University and Monmouth University junior science symposiums had every reason to be concerned.

Students at both symposiums submitted 30 percent more papers than the previous year and were concerned that they would “steal” from the small pool of Picatinny reviewers and that one or both symposiums would fall short of meeting the total demand of 192 papers, each requiring a minimum of two reviews.

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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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Robotics competitions promote science education for students

By Ed Lopez

A team from Newton High School in Sussex County, N.J., controls its robot while competing in the FIRST 2010 International Finals in Atlanta. FIRST means "For Inspiration and recognition of science and technology."

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – It is often said that the difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys.

An organization called “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST) allows them to play together.

In fact it encourages not only men and boys–but also girls and women –to join in the same activities.

FIRST exists to encourage students from many nations to experience technology and engineering through competitive robotics challenges at several levels.

Personnel at Picatinny Arsenal are involved in advancing the learning and cooperation that the program fosters, and in the process promoting education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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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 engineer analyzes potential hazards to ensure safety


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army Soldiers and civilians investigate buried munitions and suspected chemical or biological agents to ensure safe operations in the field. To strengthen their protection, engineers such as Ricardo Anderson scrutinize military equipment and programs for potential hazards.

Anderson, a systems safety engineer with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, works to mitigate these possible dangers.


Anderson, who has worked in ECBC’s Safety and Health Office for a year and five months, reviews several aspects of a program — standard operating procedures, safety briefings, personal protective equipment, personnel accountability — to ensure guidelines are followed.

“For the protective equipment, it has to go through a design analysis,” Anderson said. “My role is to pick apart the designs and make sure they are safe and within the restrictions of Army regulations.

“With getting rid of munitions, my role is to travel with the group and make sure we’re doing it in a safe manner. I give safety briefs in the morning to make sure everyone is familiar with the hazards that we have on site. When we get rid of the munitions, we have accountability for everyone.”

Anderson works with the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, as well as defense contractors, in field testing protective equipment. His projects include protective suits, breathing respirators and vehicle fire-suppression systems.

“I work with people from two-star generals to second-year interns, which mean they have a very wide base of knowledge so you can learn and also teach at the same time,” he said. “It affords me the opportunity to work with a variety of people and projects.”


Anderson earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Drexel University. He said his background allows him to approach potential hazards from a scientific perspective in ECBC’s Safety and Health Office.

“My education allows me to take a problem such as a hazard in a program and analyze it from an engineering point of view,” Anderson said. “It gives me a solid background in problem solving.

“In the Safety and Health Office, we suggest design options or things that the engineers should take into consideration. I would like to get into the actual design process.”


Anderson said his passion for science grew from his interest in taking things apart and discovering how and why they work.

“Science was a natural fit,” he said. “In middle school, the teacher put alcohol on his hand, [he] lit his hand on fire, but his hand didn’t burn. It’s basic, but it’s something that you remember. It piqued my interest in science.”

Anderson learned about opportunities with the Army and ECBC after attending a career fair at Drexel in 2009. Because he did not have a background in safety, he has taken six classes and trainings to complement his engineering education for his current role.

“ECBC is a great place to learn as young engineer. It allows you to be exposed to a lot of different things even if you do not know what field you want to get into. ECBC lets you touch a lot of different groups,” he said.

eCYBERMISSION students forge a path to White House

WASHINGTON — Seven ninth-graders from the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION program converged Feb. 6-7 to showcase their budding scientific curiosity for President Obama.

“The young people I met today, the young people behind me — you guys inspire me,” Obama said, according to “It’s young people like you that make me so confident that America’s best days are still to come.”

About 100 students from across the country displayed their research at the second White House Science Fair as part of the president’s initiatives to improve America’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics performance. Obama hosted the first fair in late 2010.


Regional winners Team Charger 4 from Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., and Team Dr. MED from the STEM Academy at Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio anxiously prepared their exhibits Feb. 6 in the East Room.

Emily Ashkin, Matthew Howard and Alexander Roupas comprise Team Charger 4. Jocelyn Hernandez, Ricardo Rodriguez, Nathaly Salazar and Carlos Zapata make up Team Dr. MED.

“I thought my teacher was kidding. I immediately started crying because it’s such an honor to be here. My exact thoughts were, ‘I’m stepping where the president has stepped,’ ” said Ashkin, explaining her reaction to the White House invitation. She is planning a career in medical research.


eCYBERMISSION is a free, Web-based STEM competition for sixth- through ninth-graders where teams compete for state, regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community. The U.S. Army sponsors the competition.

Students identifying a scientific problem and researching a solution are core aspects of eCYBERMISSION.

Salazar, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon, and her teammates investigated the improper disposal of medications in San Antonio.

“Our project was about the disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals and how it affects our environment,” Salazar said. “We need to promote public awareness to prevent this from hurting future generations and our environment.”

The team concluded that the introduction of pharmaceuticals have an impact on the pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrites and nitrates in water sources, resulting in negative implications for the ecology of Edwards Aquifer.

“I have learned that anyone can make a difference in our nation,” said Hernandez, who plans a career in biomedical advocacy. “We have science, technology, engineering and math subjects to give us the opportunity to solve the problems in our communities.”

Team Charger 4 created an inexpensive and easily accessible way to improve unsanitary water conditions in underdeveloped countries. The team concocted a solution of unsanitary water to test a water purification system using reverse osmosis.

“It’s our national duty to forge ahead in STEM education. It’s an honor to be a part of this program,” Ashkin said.


Jeff Singleton, the director of basic research, lab management and educational outreach for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, hosted the students with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Singleton lauded the eCYBERMISSION participants for their commitment to STEM education.
“What are the strengths of the nation? It’s always been ingenuity. Math and science are big drivers behind that,” Singleton said. “Where do you create new products? How do you create new ideas?”

The nation depends on aspiring, talented scientists and engineers to continue the work of previous generations, Singleton said.

“We focus on our educational outreach activities to help build this talent pool,” Singleton said. “We want our homegrown talent to be capable to provide for the next generations. It’s important to the president; that’s why he’s holding this science fair at the White House.”


Obama said that a robust STEM workforce is vital to continuing America’s role as a technical innovator, as well as the country’s economic future.

“When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future. That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects,” Obama said.

Nano technology marches on

By Jason Kaneshiro

Joseph Paras, a materials engineer at Picatinny Arsenal, stands in front of the Field Assisted Sintering Technology machine and holds a jar of nanopowder and an object forged from nanopowder using Field Assisted Sintering Technology (FAST).

A year ago, engineers at Picatinny Arsenal were busy processing and refining nanomaterials.

This year, they have made the next logical step in their ongoing work by forging objects from those nanopowders.

Objects they have created include rounded plates.

These objects can be used in creating prototypes of new equipment and devices or, alternatively, pieces can be cut from these basic shapes for use as components in other systems now under development.

“Typically, in everyday use, a pile of powder is somewhat useless,” said Joseph Paras, a materials engineer at Picatinny Arsenal. “The powder must be converted into a useful form.”

Given the mission focus at Picatinny Arsenal, possible future applications for nanomaterials may include enhanced lethality for current and future weapons systems, such as better penetrators for large and small caliber projectiles and warhead liners, Paras said.

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Local officials, Maryland college presidents tour APG


Maj. Gen. Nick Justice hosts a visit from local officials and college representatives July 28 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice hosts a visit from local officials and college representatives July 28 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Harford County Executive David Craig and nine college presidents from across Maryland visited Aberdeen Proving Ground July 28. APG senior commander Maj. Gen. Nick Justice led the tour, which included the Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Prototype Integration Facility.

Army officials and educators discussed building the APG workforce and opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

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Out of the classroom and into the field


TARDEC Senior Research Scientist for Robotics Dr. Jim Overholt addresses participants during opening ceremonies for the 19th Annual IGVC June 3, 2011. College students from across the world competed in robotics challenges, including a navigational course and an autonomous challenge. The program is part of TARDEC’s ongoing commitment to develop future scientists and engineers and provide students with real-world expertise to prepare them for future careers. (U.S. Army TARDEC photos by Chris Williams).

TARDEC Senior Research Scientist for Robotics Dr. Jim Overholt addresses participants during opening ceremonies for the 19th Annual IGVC June 3, 2011. College students from across the world competed in robotics challenges, including a navigational course and an autonomous challenge. The program is part of TARDEC’s ongoing commitment to develop future scientists and engineers and provide students with real-world expertise to prepare them for future careers. (U.S. Army TARDEC photos by Chris Williams).

Forty teams from around the world converged June 3–6, 2011, on Oakland University’s campus in Rochester, MI, for the 19th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, hosted by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The culmination of many of the Army’s robotics education programs, IGVC allows future scientists and engineers the chance to get their hands dirty developing systems with real-world applications.

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Army launches students into future to recruit young scientists

YouTube DoDLive

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., July 19, 2011 — Students taking part in U.S. Army All-American Bowl activities will be instantly transported to 2032 amid terrorist attacks and civil unrest. They will join a team of U.S. Army Soldiers and civilian scientists to design new technologies to protect lives and defeat the threat.

An immersive, high-tech portal will deliver students directly into the Army’s high-tech world. More info at


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.

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ECBC civilian engineer takes honors at national conference

Army civilian engineer takes honors at national conference

ORLANDO, Fla. — Angel Cruz’s grandfathers left Puerto Rico to fight for America. Six decades later, Cruz earned a prestigious honor as one of seven Hispanic STEM Military and Civilian Heroes.

“Displayed proudly in my parent’s house are two American flags folded in triangular forms,” he said during an emotional acceptance speech. “These flags are in remembrance of my grandfathers who left Puerto Rico to fight for freedom.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command presented Cruz with the award at the 2010 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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Army leader sparks students’ interest in science education

RDECOM mentors students in science, technology

ORLANDO, Fla. – A U.S. Army leader told about 300 high school students that America’s freedom depends on their future achievements in science and technology.

The Army’s top noncommissioned officer for research and development, Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, encouraged the students to strive for excellence in science education. That goal is vital to maintain the country’s strength and national security, he said.

“We need your support. I need your support,” Marin said. “It doesn’t matter whether you wear the [military] uniform or a lab coat as a scientist or engineer. I need your support. That’s why I’m here. It is critical.”

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