ARL-USMA Technology Symposium Held
December 07, 2009
Future Army leaders and current Army scientists came together during the 17th annual Army Research Laboratory-U.S. Military Academy Technical Symposium in Atlantic City, N.J., Nov. 9-10, 2009.
About 100 USMA West Point cadets, 40 academy faculty and 50 ARL scientists participated in the event, which is the yearly culmination of the research that connects the Army's corporate laboratory and the academy.
"The symposium was a success," said Lt. Col. Darryl Ahner, USMA/ARL research and development coordinator and symposium director. "It created an environment for collaboration for (USMA) faculty, ARL and the cadets."
Each summer, ARL hosts about 50 cadet interns at its laboratories for about a month of scientific research. Throughout the two-day symposium, the cadets and ARL scientists briefed some of their research. Some of the cadets and professional researchers also showcased scientific posters and displays.
"It's important the cadets get exposure to technology that they will have to rely on," said the symposium's keynote speaker, Dr. Cary Chabalowski, U.S. Army acting director for the Research and Laboratory Management Office, deputy assistant secretary of the Army.
Besides helping demonstrate the science behind Soldiers' equipment, Chabalowski also thinks the ARL-USMA relationship benefits the cadets in many other ways.
"Being able to work yourself through research problems teaches you a way of thinking - a higher level of thinking," he said. "You want flexible thinkers (as leaders)."
The relationship between the organizations is multidimensional, said Ahner, and the symposium is the mainstay of the connection. Throughout the year, ARL hosted West Point faculty and students at its labs and developed a network science center relationship, while the academy hosted two ARL science workshops for the cadets. ARL also has two positions for visiting scientist instructors at the academy.
"There are a lot of things going on," said Ahner.
Second-year Cadet Nichole Siegrist worked with ARL's Survivability and Lethality Analysis Directorate calculating probabilities of the incapacitation affected by a weapon. She said she was surprised to see how important ARL's research was to the current and future Soldier.
"I was expecting white lab coats and old research guys," said Siegrist. "I didn't realize the research was very modern. It's extremely relevant."
She said she benefited in multiple ways from her experiences with ARL, with the last lesson being how to give a formal scientific presentation to her peers and superiors - something most 19-year-old college students don't experience.
As she finished her presentation, her ARL sponsor, Maj. Richard Moyers, was by her side giving an after action review of her performance.
"These cadets are future officers," said Moyers, who also felt it was important to professionally mentor the cadets as well as expose them to research.
"They have a vested interest; it's not just an academic curiosity," he said. "They now know what ARL is, and (when they graduate) they can pick up a phone and call researchers back here."
Throughout the symposium the scientists repeatedly told the cadets that everything that ARL researchers do is focused on giving Soldiers the best technology possible.
"We're here to serve the Soldier," said the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate's Dr. Peter Plostins to the cadets during a presentation. "If you go out into the battlefield in the future and have technical problems ... we're here for you. You have avenues back here to help you out with your problems."