Partnership In Research Transition (PIRT) Program students welcomed to ARL

August 06, 2013

Story Highlights

  • A key program for guest researcher students, now in its second summer, falls under the Army Research Office's Partnership in Research Transition Program, which funds five Centers of Excellence at various Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • The PIRT program is administered through ARO and was established as the second phase of what was previously known as the Battlefield Capability Enhancement, or BCE, Centers of Excellence.
  • A key contrast with that of BCE, PIRT's principal objective is to enhance programs and capabilities of a select number of high-interest scientific and engineering disciplines through Army-relevant, topic-focused, near-transition-ready innovative research.

Summertime at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) means many things. Vacationing colleagues make parking somewhat more available; fitness center activity increases with longer days; and outdoor events abound.

One particularly welcome harbinger of summer is the arrival of the interns. They are those fresh faces and brisk-paced minds that appear in reception, the cafeteria, hallways and—if we are lucky—our own office and laboratory spaces, infusing new intellect, enthusiasm and industry into our research.

A standard lexical resource defines an intern as "an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field ... gaining supervised practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom)." It might even be suggested that learning scientific skills and research practices is often only accomplished by engaging with the work of practitioners.

Fulfilling a responsibility to both the Army and the wider science and technology community, ARL provides research training by means of the hands-on doing of science.

Student programs, in which ARL is a participant of long-standing, include the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SEAP and College Qualified Leaders, or CQL, programs.

SEAP exposes academically talented secondary students to scientific personnel in research and technology careers with eight-week lab assignments, talks, tours and a final paper competition to promote supportive attitudes toward the defense community, leading to possible employment.

CQL work-study internships, which are sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach program, afford undergrads and grads opportunities to learn research processes in active laboratories. Fully trained college students often return for in-depth or follow-on research.

While students prepare for potential government service in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, scientists hone mentoring skills.

This summer, ARL mentors may notice the designation "guest researcher" for certain students who would otherwise be considered interns. This distinction has resulted from incoming students who are funded by schools and industries, in contrast with the SEAP/CQL students who are funded by ARL.

A key program for guest researcher students, now in its second summer, falls under the Army Research Office's Partnership in Research Transition Program, which funds five Centers of Excellence at various Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The PIRT program is administered through ARO and was established as the second phase of what was previously known as the Battlefield Capability Enhancement, or BCE, Centers of Excellence.

A key contrast with that of BCE, PIRT's principal objective is to enhance programs and capabilities of a select number of high-interest scientific and engineering disciplines through Army-relevant, topic-focused, near-transition-ready innovative research.

Dr. Val Emery, ARL outreach program manager, worked with ARO to conceptualize and initiate this effort, and is an avid supporter of the PIRT program as a way to bring new talent into ARL. He maintains close ties to the students, mentors and institutions.

The PIRT program is managed by ARO HBCU/MI program manager, Patricia Huff.

The PIRT program is providing 13 students to ARL laboratories this summer. They are distributed across a variety of projects, from laser systems research for atmospheric sensing to sociolinguistic investigations of conversational style switching.

On June 24, PIRT mentors Dr. Michelle Vanni of ARL's Computational and Information Sciences Directorate's (CISD) Information Science Division and Dr. Melvin Felton of CISD's Battlefield Environment Division organized a PIRT Guest Researcher Welcome Reception to bring these students together to learn about each other's projects.

"At this stage in their careers," said Felton, "[the students] are usually surrounded by people who are all in the same area of study. We have a great opportunity to get them together so that they can share experiences and broaden their horizons."

"We wanted to give PIRT students the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues, such as other PIRT program students working for the summer at ARL, who are likely to be having similar experiences with academics and internships," commented Vanni.

The get-together, hosted by the PIRT mentors, featured the students, mentors and their management, and BED administrative officer Peggy Denkins, who supported the 2013 arrival of many of the PIRT summer interns.

Attendees enjoyed refreshments while introducing themselves, their schools, mentors and projects to the group as a whole. The event concluded with a surprise visit from Emery, who noted that he intends to grow the PIRT program moving forward.

The PIRT program established five Centers of Excellence in 2011 that focus on Army-relevant, topic-focused, near transition-ready innovative research, and student research projects are consistent with the aims and approaches of their affiliated centers.

This summer, 13 PIRT interns were placed at ARL labs, 11 at ALC and 2 at the Engineer Research and Development Center.

The PIRT centers and ARL/ERDC Division Sponsors are Howard University-Language and Computer Science, Howard University-Engineering, Delaware State University, Hampton University and North Carolina A&T University.


ARL is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness—technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment—to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

LINKS:

Army.mil: Science and Technology News
http://www.army.mil/news/sciencetechnology/

U.S. Army Materiel Command
http://www.army.mil/amc

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command
http://www.army.mil/rdecom

U.S. Army Research Laboratory
http://www.arl.army.mil/

 

Last Update / Reviewed: August 6, 2013