Bruce Amrein's dedication to ARL continues – even as he sets out to retire

October 01, 2014

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

So many of the men and women who retire from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory will tell you that they were fortunate to have worked with such great teams and loved the work and research they conducted while there.

Bruce E. Amrein, chief of the Perceptual Sciences Branch at the Human Research and Engineering Directorate is no exception. He has been with HRED since the inception of ARL in 1992. Prior to that, he was commissioned as an Army Signal Corps officer after ROTC in college and assigned to the Ballistic Research Laboratory for two years. He said he enjoyed the research and development work so much that he applied to become a civilian employee in 1974. He remained at BRL until 1977, and then he transferred to the U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory, which later became HRED.

Amrein has been a branch chief for a total of 32 years—first as chief of the Simulation Systems Branch and for the last 14 years as chief of the Perceptual Sciences Branch, which was formerly the Visual and Auditory Processes Branch—until a name change in 2012.

"During my time here, I have been fortunate enough to be responsible for developing much of the research and administrative facilities now in use by HRED," said Amrein.

Some of these facilities include the construction of HRED's current headquarters building, the redevelopment of a building into a state-of-the-art auditory and visual research facility, the development of the Hostile Environment Simulator, the design and development of the Tactical Environment Simulation Facility, the conception and development of the Environment for Auditory Research and the development of HRED's Mission Impact through Neuro-inspired Design (MIND) Laboratory.

"These facilities should serve HRED for many years to come," said Amrein.

Amrein said that his time at ARL and, prior to that, at HEL, provided him numerous opportunities to be creative in developing and providing technology solutions to high-priority problems faced by the Army. He said that much of this work was accomplished while working with the Army Materiel Command Field Assistance in Science and Technology program.

"During the 1985 to 1992 timeframe, there were critical performance deficiencies in the mobility of the M1 tank under degraded conditions. Working as part of an Aberdeen Proving Ground consortium that included HEL, BRL and the Ordnance Center and School, we developed quick-reaction technology solutions to solve these problems," said Amrein. "This work resulted in several patents and improvements to technologies necessary to support our Soldiers on the front-line in Germany. Seeing the results of our creativity was extremely rewarding."

Amrein said that during his time at APG, the most significant change has been the increase in computer capabilities and along with this, the dependence on these computers to accomplish even the most mundane tasks.

"As the HRED IT point of contact, I hope my efforts have in some way improved HRED's computer-based capabilities—especially for the large portion of our workforce working at more than 20 satellite sites around the U.S.," said Amrein. "My goal has been to convince the ARL Corporate Information Office to always consider HRED's far-flung workforce when deploying technology solutions. We are making progress in this area."

As a supervisor, Amrein's goal has always been to treat everyone fairly while providing as many educational and self-development opportunities as possible.

"I've always believed our talented team can accomplish the research mission, while feeling self-fulfilled, and at the same time having fun doing it," said Amrein. "Apparently, this strategy works, because several of our researchers continue their work as guest researchers (for no pay) after retiring or otherwise leaving."

Amrein said that being honored as ARL's outstanding supervisor in 2013 was probably the highest honor he has received, but he also said that award really belongs to the members of the Perceptual Sciences Branch.

Being a mentor and having a mentor is something Amrein said is important.

"I've had two mentors that stand out," said Amrein. "First is Dr. Robin Keesee, former director of HRED who had sufficient faith in me to assign me as chief of HRED's Visual and Auditory Processes Branch (now the Perceptual Sciences Branch). This assignment was a complete change in direction for me; but resulted in being my most rewarding assignment—working with the most dedicated, talented group of researchers ever!

"The second mentor was Dr. Tomasz Letowski, HRED's now-retired senior scientist. Together, Tom and I published several technical reports, book chapters and journal articles, and developed HRED's Environment for Auditory Research. Together we made a good team and we continue that collaboration in retirement."

Amrein has been accepted into ARL's Volunteer Emeritus Corps and will continue collaborating with his colleagues in the Perceptual Sciences Branch while completing work on revising the DoD military standard on noise. This effort has been underway for almost a decade and is almost complete.

In addition to his volunteer work, Amrein is starting a small business to provide technology services to small houses of worship. In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking and is an amateur radio operator. He also said he looks forward to spending more time with his family.

"I've shared this journey with my wife of 38 years—Gail. We have two children and five grandchildren," said Amrein. "Everybody lives close by, so after retirement, I will have more time to spend with them."

Amrein leaves these parting words to his friends he has made over the years... "My only wish is keep up the good work and do whatever possible to provide the best research and technology to our customer—the U.S. Army Soldier!"

Amrein will retire from ARL on Oct. 3, 2014.


Last Update / Reviewed: October 1, 2014