ARL's Human Research and Engineering Directorate reorganizes to better support its missions

February 09, 2016

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Human Research and Engineering Directorate recently reorganized to align its research efforts with ARL's technical strategy and science and technology (S&T) campaign goals and to better support the changing Army missions. The reorganization, also known as the "transformation," was announced at an all-hands meeting in October 2015. The meeting brought together employees from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Orlando, Fla., California, and all HRED field offices throughout the country.

As the Army changes to meet the needs of the future, so does ARL. The Army is undergoing many changes; for example, the pivot to the Pacific while maintaining focus in Southwest Asia and new cyber challenges. ARL is addressing these by adjusting how it conducts business and how it organizes its programs. ARL now manages its efforts by campaigns. These strategic Army and ARL changes have impacted how HRED must conduct their research programs.

HRED conducts research in several campaigns, especially the Human Sciences Campaign, Assessment and Analysis, and Computational Science. HRED is also the proponent for Army Human Systems Integration (formerly known as MANPRINT), which addresses human issues within Army systems' acquisition. These missions require the directorate to be agile and flexible. Over time, changes in the Army and ARL have created the need to re-examine how HRED is postured and position the directorate to enhance internal synergies and redistribute experience and talent.

"With this reorganization, HRED will be able to collaborate and create stronger relationships throughout the ARL directorates and also with our industry and academia partners. This will help us be postured to innovate for the future and meet customer needs today," said Dr. Laurel Allender, HRED's director.

A transformation team made up of employees throughout HRED, to include the field offices, was established to look at business practices and the HRED environment and make recommendations to leadership. The 24-person team looked at future planning needs, conducted branch interviews, and conducted open talk lines to ask for suggestions and gather ideas to move the directorate forward.

Jody Wojciechowski, a transformation-team member who works at APG, explained the importance of the restructure and its progress.

"HRED needed to align the human capital with the changing needs of the Army while maintaining the high-quality work that is necessary to advocate for the Soldier," said Wojciechowski. "And, new research opportunities and changing business processes drove the realignment of the competencies to foster collaboration and cross-organizational projects."

Another transformation team member was Carol Wilson, who works at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. She indicated HRED's diverse geographic locations enable researchers to be located near other organizations of the Army and that this allows for better customer support. She said this allows them to "consistently provide expertise directly to the Soldier" and provides them the opportunity to "influence the research initiatives based on the Soldier's current and future needs."

"The transformation allows us to integrate the concepts from research and the applied domains to improve the Human Systems Integration," said Wilson. "The transformation integrates the HRED field elements and the researchers located in Aberdeen and Orlando to serve the Soldier and thus strengthening the HSI mission."

Diane Ungvarsky, a researcher at the Fort Leavenworth field element in Kansas, shared her insight: The reorganization feels like a natural fit and will add strength to the organization.

"I have always been a 'remote' HREDer—stationed at the Fort Hood [Texas] and Fort Leavenworth field elements plus a FAST [Field Assistance in Science and Technology] tour in Germany. That put me in the old division that was mostly field-element personnel. Often we didn't know what the folks at APG were doing and they didn't understand what it was like to be out in a field element," Ungvarsky recalled.

"The transformed structure breaks organizational and geographic barriers. It will serve as a forcing function to forge new relationships. That means that the strengths of each of the old divisions can be more easily brought to bear for the HRED S&T campaigns. It has not been too difficult of a transition for me because my field element at Fort Leavenworth has always had a cross-organizational focus," Ungvarsky continued. "My new branch is mostly a melding of my old branch and a research-focused branch located at APG. I have worked with some of my new branch mates for years on different programs, so the fit feels very natural for me. But for some of the field elements, it's more of an adjustment. I think once the growing pains subside, we'll all see the value of the transformation."

HRED Director Allender said she is optimistic this new organization is better prepared to meet the new challenges brought to them by the Army and is looking forward to great things from HRED.

"It is a big change and will take time to work out all the issues, but I believe that we have positioned ourselves to grow and be more adaptable to the needs of the Army. We are moving forward together!" said Allender.

HRED's new organization comprises three divisions

The Future Soldier Technology Division is primarily located at APG and is where most of the basic research and some of the applied-research program is conducted.

The Soldier Battlefield Integration Division executes more of the applied mission and most of the HSI mission and includes much of the distributed, remote field elements.

The Advanced Training and Simulation Division is primarily located in Orlando and includes some APG and a few field-element personnel. The division executes a small part of the basic research program, some applied research, and some technology development.

"This new organization allows for the best flexibility to get the job done for HRED, ARL, and the Army," said Allender.


Last Update / Reviewed: February 9, 2016