RDECOM techies create
“We provide the technology that gives today’s warfighter
the battlefield edge,” says the EEO chief.
“You feel the energy and the possibilities.”
From weapons to uniforms, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD) develops just about everything a soldier eats, wears, shoots and carries. “We provide the technology that gives today’s warfighter the battlefield edge,” says Fred Brewington, chief, equal employment opportunity office. “It’s exciting work.”
Currently the makeup of RDECOM’s professional staff is just over twenty percent minority. Brewington is working to increase that number.
He notes that RDECOM supports an aggressive outreach program to minority institutions and organizations. “We participate every year in the HENAAC conference and with NSBE. We have outstanding agreements and programs with HBCUs.” Last October RDECOM signed an agreement with HENAAC to encourage Hispanic youth to pursue science, technology and engineering careers.
The command also works with government programs to bring in women and minorities through internships and co-ops. The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) allows students to work in any area, even those unrelated to their studies. As part of STEP, students can also participate in the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), which helps them convert work experience to full-time positions after graduation.
RDECOM was created in a 2004 consolidation of the Army’s various R&D organizations. The merger created a synergy within Army elements that was not possible when the labs were scattered among different commands. For example, if aviation is working on a missile design it can now work more easily with communications and automotive. “Just because it flies doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to talk to a vehicle on the ground,” Brewington says.
With its mission to develop technology for the current and future American soldier, Brewington describes the command’s culture as almost academic. “We have become more of a professional, high-tech organization,” he says. “You feel the energy and the possibilities.”
Although it’s an Army organization, most of the command’s employees are not military. Along with about 3,000 soldiers at RDECOM there are more than 14,000 civilians. Over sixty percent are professionals, mostly scientists and engineers.
Brewington says new minority and women hires find RDECOM a welcoming environment.
Most professionals belong to associations like Blacks in Government and Federally
RDECOM currently has two female technical directors, Brewington notes proudly. Together they’re in charge of thousands of scientists and engineers at the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (Warren, MI) and the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (Natick, MA). “I’ve been in the federal government for thirty-six years,” says Brewington. “It’s rare to see two female technical directors like we have at RDECOM. To have women at that level is commendable.”
RDECOM is reaching out to veterans with disabilities. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to bring them in through special programs. “We allow them to come into the agency and receive additional training and experience before they apply for a job in the workplace,” Brewington explains. Some may even be hired without competing through government channels, a rarity in the traditional federal hiring process.
In the last year RDECOM has added about 400 positions at locations across the U.S. Now, base realignment and closure activity will shift some of RDECOM’s operations to new locations, which may create more openings.
All RDECOM staff members are government employees. Because of the classified nature of its work in national security, prospective employees must be U.S. citizens with an ability to obtain high-level security clearance. “Our scientists definitely need to pass a security clearance,” Brewington emphasizes.
Because of the range of technologies used at the various labs, RDECOM is seeking candidates in all areas of science and engineering. All experience levels are needed.
Brewington hopes new hires will consider the intrinsic rewards of working at RDECOM. “Our employees get so much satisfaction from knowing they’re helping a soldier somewhere. That’s what we do best. We provide technologies to assist soldiers and save lives.
U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM)
|| 3,000 military
development of battlefield technology
for use by U.S. soldiers.