Thursday, September 11, 2014

Employee Spotlight: Shelby Bartram

Shelby Bartram is an intern with the Protection Factor Test Team in the Engineering Test Division. She is currently participating in the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program, which supports her education in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline and matches her with a job opportunity after graduation. Bartram has been involved with STEM programs at ECBC since high school.

How did you first get involved at ECBC?

I was reluctant at first, but my parents encouraged me to sign up for the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP) when the STEM outreach board visited Perryville Middle School in Cecil County, where I went to school. I didn’t want to be a scientist—I wanted to be a teacher—but my parents told me I should try it and could stop after a year, so I signed up. It’s one of the times when you look back and thank them.

And you have stayed involved working at ECBC through college?

Yes, I moved from SEAP to other summer internships like the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS) summer program at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and I have now been in the SMART program for two years. During my first year in the SEAP program, I was doing research online because I thought engineers were just people who worked on trains. I wrote a paper about chemical engineering and then found all of the fields within biomedical engineering, and something clicked and I thought, “This is something I really want to do.”

What are you studying in school?

I am in a five-year program to get my Bachelor’s in Science in biomedical engineering with a minor in chemistry and a Master’s degree in engineering management. I’m going into my senior year at Western New England University in Massachusetts.

What has been the most rewarding experience about participating in these STEM programs?

I have been asked many times to be a keynote speaker for other students or classes to tell them about my experience and the opportunities available, and that’s been the best part for me. I love being able to share these options with kids and tell them not to hold anything back and not give up on their dreams, because there are programs through the government that provide incredible opportunities.

How do you see yourself staying connected to ECBC?

I plan to explore the career options at ECBC by talking to mentors and learning about the capabilities on post and how they align with what I want to do. I also plan to stay involved with STEM outreach activities so I can pass my experiences onto current students and educate kids about the possibilities for careers like mine in this field.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ECBC and UMB partner to launch the careers of young scientists

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) has established an Education Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Graduate Program in Life Sciences and the UMB Graduate School. The ECBC-UMB Student Internship Program (EUSIP) allows students currently pursuing a master’s degree in molecular medicine or toxicology at UMB an opportunity to work alongside experienced ECBC scientists at ECBC facilities and fosters a mutually beneficial technology transfer and collaborative relationship between the two parties.

Continuing into fiscal year 2014 - 2015, participating students will work on ongoing research projects with an ECBC Principal Investigator and conduct research that can be used toward fulfillment of their UMB degree requirements. Interns gain access to the state-of-the-art research facilities at ECBC, as well as experts who can also serve as career mentors. ECBC in turn benefits from the students’ fresh scientific insights and techniques while enhancing their capability to recruit new talent into careers within the Department of Defense (DoD).

Robert Dorsey, the BioSensors Branch Chief, and co-lead Jeff Ballin, Ph.D., an Excet Inc., a research biologist working within the BioTechnology Branch, looked for new ways to improve recruitment and innovation into their projects . Previously, interns came from high schools or undergraduate institutions to work at ECBC during their summer break. However, as a large portion student time was often used for paperwork and training, many found the time spent by students doing actual laboratory work was often too short to make a significant impact.

Dr. Ballin said his main goal in selecting projects and PIs for this program was finding people who could serve as good career mentors for the students while providing research programs with strong opportunities for growth and development.

“This program relies on mentors who are more than just good researchers. We need good researchers who can also foster the growth of a student. The PIs serve on the student’s thesis committee since the work done with the PI is the central focus of the thesis. A student must have the right support for their professional career to flourish,” Ballin said.

One of the first students to participate in this program is Ashley Larsen. Larsen sat down with us to discuss some of her experiences thus far with ECBC.

How did you find out about ECBC’s program?

I found out about the EUSIP program through my graduate school; I attended a presentation in which several representatives from ECBC provided brief overviews of the projects they are working on and which graduate students would be helpful and able to learn.

What is your academic background?

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012, graduating with a B.S. in

Biological Sciences with an emphasis on microbiology. More recently I just successfully completed my master’s program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, graduating with a M.S. in Molecular Medicine and specializing in physiology/ pharmacology.

What are you working on right now and with whom?

I am currently working with Dr. Henry S. Gibbons on a project that focuses on developing an ideal Bacillus anthracis surrogate strain to predict the behavior of potential biothreat agents within the environment. My current goal is to improve the efficiency of integration of a stable genetic tag into a surrogate organism in order to make its detection via specific PCR assays in environmental simulations easier.

What has been the most interesting part of your work so far?

The most interesting part of my work so far is being able to work towards a goal that I can visualize having real-world applications. In the past, my lab work has been focused mostly on academics and trying to understand particular biological phenomena rather than trying to create an end product that can be used to help people in real life.

How have you applied your work at ECBC to your coursework, and vice versa: how have you applied some of your coursework to this internship?

The core course that all life science graduate students are required to take at UMB provided me with a generalized overview of many advanced molecular biology techniques. I was able to use that knowledge extensively in the lab, as I am mostly performing molecular cloning and use several molecular diagnostic tests to verify my results. Additionally, I have been able to use what I have learned in the lab to further expand upon my basic molecular biology knowledge and revisit the microbiology aspect of my studies.

What are your plans for the future?

My future plans are currently undecided. I have always been extremely interested in the medical field, so applying to medical school or to a physician assistant program may be one option. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the current research that has been ongoing in the fields of biology and medicine, so I may decide to apply to a Ph.D. program and focus more on host-pathogen interactions within the next few years.

Ashley Larsen (pictured above), was the first student to participate in the ECBC-UMB Student Internship Program in January 2014. Larsen graduated UMB in May 2014 with an M.S. in Molecular Medicine and specializing in physiology/ pharmacology, and completed the ECBC internship program at the same time. Currently, she is continuing her science career with ECBC as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellow within ECBC’s BioSciences Division.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

ECBC Employee Spotlight: Stephen Harper, Environmental & Field Testing Branch Chief

This month’s Engineering Edge Employee Spotlight is on Stephen Harper, Branch Chief of the Environmental & Field Testing Branch in the Engineering Test Division. He is also a Black Hawk Helicopter Instructor Pilot and Safety Officer with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

What is your current job in the Engineering Directorate?

The Environmental & Field Testing Branch is responsible for environmental testing, including pressure testing, vibration testing, temperature testing, fog testing, etc., to determine how various equipment, filters and materials will perform under extreme conditions. Our test chambers can simulate various environmental scenarios and conditions encountered by the Warfighter in the field. As Branch Chief, I consider myself a “working facilitator” for our team’s operation. Although I serve in a supervisory capacity, I enjoy being hands-on and assisting the team with projects. I also serve as a liaison assisting Division Chief Eugene Vickers and Associate Director Ron Pojunas in helping the branch to acquire new customers.

Tell us about your service in the Army National Guard.

Growing up, I always enjoyed military movies and TV shows and dreamed of flying helicopters. Initially I joined the Air National Guard working as a sheet metal mechanic on A-10s. The National Guard was a means of supporting myself through college, and it has been a huge part of my life ever since. I have served in the National Guard for 24 years; most of those years have been in the Army National Guard. My tenure in the Army National Guard has been in aviation as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, except for the one-year waiting period prior to flight school. I am currently stationed with the Alpha Company 2/104th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard located in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. What some folks may not know about me is that I also served as a Deputy U.S. Marshall for two years in Washington, D.C. ECBC has supported me as a Soldier and civilian employee through the course of two deployments to Iraq (in 2003 and 2009), a recent deployment to Afghanistan (in 2013), and multiple military training schools and other missions and commitments. With a background in chem-bio, I was able to serve as an assistant to the Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) officer during my deployment to Iraq in 2003.

What kind of perspectives do you bring to your work at ECBC by also being a Soldier?

From the perspective of being both a scientist and a Soldier, I am able to harmonize the research and end user sides. This perspective is unique and advantageous simply by being able to explain the Army’s needs to the scientists and by answering any technical questions about protective equipment for the Soldier. It is essential that Soldiers have confidence in their equipment. ECBC’s capability of the rapid-fielding of chem-bio defense equipment and technologies is impressive to Soldiers; they trust the quality and safety of the equipment provided by the Center. Also beneficial is my experience of working with certain equipment used in theater. If there is a piece of equipment that didn’t work well, I can explain what occurred to scientists and researchers so that improvements can be made.

What are your other hobbies outside of work and the Guard?

Besides work and the National Guard, I also spend a lot of time in school. I am grateful to both ECBC and the National Guard for supporting my education, including my Master’s degree in Environmental Policy & Management and my current pursuit of a Ph.D. in Engineering Management. Perhaps when I am finished with school I will finally have a chance to renew one of my favorite hobbies of all time – riding motorcycles!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ECBC Employee Spotlight: Julie Renner, JUPITR Scientist

Julie Renner, an analytical toxicologist at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, has always enjoyed traveling and experiencing new cultures. Her most recent developmental assignment in the Republic of Korea (ROK) supporting the Joint United States Forces Korea (USFK) Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition advanced technology demonstration (JUPITR ATD), allowed her to expand her chemical and biological defense knowledge while learning about a different country. JUPITR ATD is a program led by the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO) and supported by ECBC, to establish biological surveillance capabilities to the Korean Peninsula through four thrust areas.

JUPITR is unique in that it sends ECBC and Public Health Command (PHC) researchers to South Korea to work alongside USFK representatives to improve their laboratory capabilities. Renner was one of ten ECBC scientists who made the journey so far, and one of two who have completed more than one rotation. Now, Renner shares some of her experiences in this role and how this assignment will shape her future at ECBC and with the Department of Defense in general..

What is your educational background, and how did you get started at ECBC?

I graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2003 with Bachelor’s Degrees in biology and chemistry. After graduation, I really didn’t know exactly what type of work I wanted to pursue. While I was in college, I worked a seasonal job at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Environmental Remediation, following graduation I returned there. One day, I came across a job posting for a contractor position with ECBC’s analytical toxicology team. It sounded intriguing and after doing a little research, I realized how important ECBC’s work is to the nation, so I applied. The interview went well and in November 2003, I was offered a position by Geo-Centers, Inc. as a Scientist 1. I’ve worked with ECBC ever since eventually making the move from contractor to government employee. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work for both the analytical toxicology and operational toxicology teams in different facets. I completed University of Florida’s online masters program in forensic toxicology in 2007, with the help of my previous company.

How did you initially get involved with JUPITR?

I first heard about JUPITR when Peter Emanuel [JUPITR Program lead] sent out a mass invitation to an informational meeting about the JUPITR ATD in Korea. I love traveling and am always looking for opportunities to learn so, it piqued my interest. Initially, I simply planned to attend the meeting to learn more information, but at the end of the meeting, Peter asked for volunteers to go to Korea, and I found myself signing up. I realized what an amazing developmental assignment this was and what an amazing opportunity this program would give me, so I did not hesitate to participate.

Why did you participate in two rotations? How did your first time there differ from the second?

I originally volunteered to go to ROK for two months, but my first rotation was only a month long. In that month, I had fallen in love with the job and Korea itself, so when I returned to the U.S., I had made sure to let everyone know that I was available to go back if they needed me. As it turned out, they did need me to return and I gladly accepted the opportunity. Returning to Korea gave me an opportunity to re-engage with some of the projects I started during my first rotation. My first rotation went by quickly and much of that time in the beginning was spent acclimating to my surroundings, learning local policies/procedures, and forming relationships with our contacts and lab/military personnel. On my second rotation with all of the adjustments out of the way, I could focus on the primary goal of the project: to improve the capability of USFK to respond to biological events.
Additionally, I think the Army and Air Force appreciated the continuity in personnel. Since it does take a while for scientists to get acclimated and build relationships, I think it provided them with relief to have someone who could jump in and be dedicated to the actual project work.

What were you responsible for while you were in Korea?

I worked with Michelle Ziemski, an ECBC scientist, to upgrade the Biological Identification Capability Laboratory at the Yongsan Airbase lab to Biological Safety level-2 (BSL-2) standards. BSL-2 allows the lab to safely accommodate the receipt and analysis of biologically hazardous environmental samples. This process included physical upgrades as well as policy and procedural changes, such as a concept of operations. In addition to establishing a BSL-2, we also demonstrated new laboratory instrumentation to both USFK and ROK personnel. These new laboratory capabilities will give the USFK/8th Army Surgeon the power to make informed decisions based on results obtained locally as opposed to depending entirely on CONUS support. In the past the lab would have to send samples back to the US for analysis which takes a lot of time and resources. By setting up the instrumentation there in Korea, the soldiers can analyze these samples on their own and in a timely manner.

How has your experience with JUPITR differed from your experience with other projects while at ECBC or elsewhere?

ECBC really has done and continues to do outstanding work. Recently, ECBC and JPEO have made history by assisting with destroying Syria’s chemical stockpile by creating the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, placing it on the Cape Ray and sending personnel on the Cape Ray to operate the machinery. Our role in supporting JUPITR through developing subject-matter experts and sending them to Korea to fulfill a critical biological surveillance mission is no less significant. This project will have a huge impact on the Korean peninsula and within the biosurveillance world. For all of my years at ECBC, I have always recognized ECBC’s significance to the Department of Defense, but I have never had the opportunity to be a part of something so large-scale or highly visible until now. The JUPITR ATD has a tangible and impactful end-result: an improved bio-surveillance capability on the peninsula. I am honored to be a part of it all.

How have you seen the USFK positively affected by the work done with JUPITR?

Each day, we are significantly improving the capability of the USFK to respond to biological events. By bringing these new laboratory capabilities and our subject-matter expertise to the ROK, the USFK/8th Army Surgeon can rely on local USFK analyses rather than depending entirely on continental United States support. We have already successfully analyzed samples in the BICS laboratories as part of peninsula - wide exercises. We have also been able to bring USFK assets together by coordinating with Army and Air Force personnel.

What was the biggest highlight of working with JUPITR?

I have experienced so many amazing things working with JUPITR. A big highlight for me was when we gave an instrument demonstration to two groups of ROK soldiers and civilians. They did not understand English, so we worked with a translator to give our presentation, which was challenging. Despite the language barrier, they were wonderful to work with. It was neat to pause, let the translator translate what we had just explained, and then see all of the participants’ faces excitedly nod as they understood. Michelle and I received a commander’s coin from one of the ROK colonels for our efforts. Overall, my biggest highlight was just getting to experience all that Korea has to offer. It is truly an amazing place.

What has your day-to-day been like since returning to the States?

Currently, I am back to my previous job, with the operational toxicology team. I write tech reports and work on a team that utilizes a large-scale glove box for toxicological studies. I also assist other members of the operational toxicology team who are working on personal protection equipment (PPE) studies and human estimate studies for chemical agents. Even though I technically do not work for JUPITR currently, I still participate in weekly telecons for JUPITR’s Biological Identification Capability Sets working group and keep in touch with team members who are still in Korea.

How will you incorporate what you’ve learned in Korea to your work at Edgewood?

While the job I performed in Korea is very different from my job in Edgewood, there are many things I have learned that can be incorporated into my current position. I now have a better understanding of the world of biological threats and toxins; the more I understand about any CBRNE threats, the better. I’ve learned that ECBC is so much more than just the chemical warfare agents I happen to study. Aside from science skills, I feel like this rotation has helped me become a more effective communicator (especially when there is a language barrier), learn how to overcome unforeseen challenges, and how to work with new people.

What are your hobbies?

My passion is playing volleyball. I also have an interest in photography. I was able to sharpen my skills a bit while in Korea, I’m still a novice, but I think I got some pretty good shots.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ECBC Employee Spotlight: COL Debra Daniels

An Employee Spotlight on COL Debra Daniels, ECBC Military Deputy, Army Soldier, and artist.

Who or what inspired you to have a career in the military?

My father was in the Army, so I was raised with that sense of pride and service. I received a scholarship through an Army ROTC program and intended to serve for a few years – but here I am in my 26th year, still with the same sense of pride and service that I had at the beginning of my career.

What is your role as Military Deputy to the ECBC Director?

As the Military Deputy, one of my main duties is to articulate how the Center supports the Warfighter to sustain, survive and win in the CBRNE world. It is important to translate the Soldiers’ needs and communicate those to the engineers and scientists as they develop the products and solutions that prepare Soldiers for CBRNE missions.

How do you stay connected to the Warfighters?

By communicating to the Army what ECBC does for the Soldier – and that the Center does is more than just protective masks! It includes filters, decon kits and other equipment that the Soldier might not need to reach for every day in the field, but by explaining the breadth and depth of expertise of the scientists and engineers who work here to ensure the Soldiers understand that when they do need to reach for protective equipment, they can do so with confidence that they are protected.

What attracted you to this position?

On my last deployment to Afghanistan, I was looking for a position in the Washington, D.C. area when I returned. This position was on the list of possible assignment. While reviewing the assignment list, since I had never heard of ECBC, I discussed this position with peers and even subordinates and received words of caution and concern based on ECBC’s mission. I took this as an opportunity to work in a new area and also as a good sign that there must be very effective personnel with the safety protocols in place based on the mission; and of course, I found this to be true since my arrival. The strong emphasis on safety has helped the Center maintain the nation’s trust as it handles such hazardous and deadly materiel.

Do you have any advice for young women who are early in their careers?

Don’t listen to the naysayers – follow your passion and be sure to research and understand what it takes to succeed in that career field. Seek out a mentor whose career you admire and ask them how they became successful.

What has been the most challenging part of being a female in a male-dominated field?

I sometimes find that people can be more challenging than the Army’s mission; I thrive when people discourage me. I am proud to say that the Army provides the same standards for both male and female Soldiers with clear standards expected in each career field. The criteria for promotion in the Army are based on your skill, overall manner of performance and needs of the Army. I have succeeded not based on gender but on training, and performance that led to positions of increasing responsibility (and discouragement). In my first assignment, I was a Platoon Leader in the 18th Engineer Brigade in Germany; I was in charge of a 40-person platoon that was all male. I was one of several female officers assigned to the unit for the first time, making it a time of great change for the Corps of Engineers. My Platoon Sergeant, SFC Jeffery Kiper, was emphatic that I was thoroughly trained to be a platoon leader and knew everything about the Soldiers, the engineer equipment, our construction mission and the Army; he ensured that I was trained and expected me to be the best platoon leader in the battalion, regardless of my gender, and I was. He was aware of the challenges facing me, but focused on overcoming gender and race distractions by training and preparing me to ensure I was competent, confident and capable to handle any challenge.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I have many “relaxation” hobbies – I love to draw and paint, and I’m also an avid amateur photographer. I also enjoy traveling and reading novels, especially detective mysteries.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Matrixed Employees: Providing Valuable Technical Expertise, Direct Linkage to the Customer and Critical Support to the Warfighter

Matrixed employees make up approximately one-third of the ECBC Engineering Directorate’s workforce and play a valuable role as subject matter experts and liaisons to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) and Project Managers for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance (JPM-NBC CA), Protection (JPM-P), Elimination (JPM-E), Medical Countermeasure Systems (JPM-MCS), Guardian (JPM-Guardian), and Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPM-RN). Their skills and experience in the areas of engineering, science, technology, logistics and business are an asset to both the PMs and the Directorate. “Matrixed employees bring a lot of work back into ECBC,” said Randy Laye, Deputy Director of Engineering. “They are not only demonstrating Engineering’s core competencies, but they also play an invaluable role as a linkage to our customers, their programs and their needs.”

Here, six matrixed employees share their contributions and experiences, including the benefits and challenges of being matrixed.

Luke Fallon, Program Analyst, JPM-NBC CA

“I am currently on a developmental assignment with JPEO-CBD Headquarters in the Business Operations shop in support of Army-funded programs and efforts. This opportunity to work in the acquisition field is a benefit of being a matrixed employee. The acquisition field offers participation in an array of programs that provide a diverse experience in both research and development and procurement.

“An exciting project I have worked on as a matrixed employee was an effort to field capabilities to the Civil Support Teams (CSTs). This project allowed me to interact with a range of personnel, from the Warfighters assigned to the individual CSTs to members of the National Guard Bureau. This interaction gave me an understanding of the range of requirements and needs we meet through ECBC and the JPMs.

“My connection with the Engineering Directorate has been in conjunction with the Dismounted Reconnaissance Joint Urgent Operational Need System (DR JUONS). The chance to interface with the Advance Design and Manufacturing (ADM) Division to facilitate the fielding of an interim solution in parallel with the development of the program of record (Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets Kits and Outfits (DR SKO)), has given me great appreciation for the capabilities of the Engineering Directorate.”

Nicole Goetze, Chemical Engineer, JPEO-CBD

“I serve as a chemical engineer on the Product Support Manager for the Joint Portfolio (PSM-JP) team. Currently, I both lead and participate in initiatives that work towards accomplishing the PSM-JP vision of balancing affordability and readiness for the Warfighter from a Chemical Biological Defense Program (CBDP) enterprise perspective. This role involves developing strategies and corresponding plans of action for implementation of those strategies, participating on multiple integrated product teams to provide input and expertise from the PSM-JP perspective, and coordinating with subject matter experts from the JPMs, ECBC and other organizations as needed.

“I began my career with the Engineering Directorate, and although I’m matrixed to a new organization now, I like that I still have a connection to ECBC. Additionally, I like the different perspective that being a matrixed employee allows me to have. For instance, rather than being purely customer-focused, I am now exposed to working with system stakeholders and have the opportunity to collaborate with teams at a broader level. It can also be challenging to work as part of an enterprise. The CBDP enterprise encompasses multiple stakeholders. Achieving collaboration between all of them requires a delicate balance in order to meet everyone’s expectations.”

Anne Hise, Operations Manager, JPM-NBC CA

“In 2008, I joined the Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets, Kits and Outfits (DR SKO) Program as the lead systems engineer. The program completely revolutionizes how the Services complete their missions by allowing them to safely conduct reconnaissance in confined and enclosed spaces. When I joined the team, the contract has just been awarded and there were no approved requirements, yet all Services wanted a system immediately. The program just successfully completed a Full Rate Production Decision in March 2014 and fieldings are set to begin this summer. Currently I am serving as the Operations Manager for the organization. The position began as a developmental assignment, and after six months, became permanent. My main duties include coordinating and answering all internal and external taskers, as well as all internal and external documents staffing, review and approvals; coordination of weekly staff meetings; and operational support for facilities, purchasing, business processes, media and information technology.

“As a matrixed employee, I enjoy the flexibility to grow and enhance my career by moving in and around ECBC and their partner organizations, while still being an ECBC employee. It has allowed me to explore opportunities without the fears that come with moving from job to job or company to company. But it does take work on my part to stay connected with ECBC. I do that through networking and building relationships with people at ECBC as well as with the JPM.”

Elaine M. Stewart-Craig, Strategic Planner, JPEO-CBD

“ “As a strategic planner, I am involved in both assessing where the JPEO is today and planning how to get to where it wants to be in the future. I work with organizational representatives from each of the JPMs, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Joint Science and Technology Office (DTRA-JSTO), and the Joint Requirements Office (JRO) to better align the overall CBDP goals and JPEO programs to focus on the Warfighters’ priorities.

“Being matrixed to the JPEO-CBD and working with the other organizations within the CBDP allows me to see the big picture of where the CBDP is focused, which directly impacts the work at ECBC. For example, I am currently working on a materiel solution capability assessment that could impact how the entire CBDP plans for future programs. The intent of the assessment is to provide JPEO management insight into where our current equipment and development programs are addressing priorities and where we may need to make future investments.

“There are some administrative challenges to being a matrixed employee. ECBC is my home organization and I am responsible to ECBC for meeting training requirements, completing performance objectives and appraisals and addressing additional suspenses as needed. However, the JPEO sometimes has different requirements and timetables which I must also adhere to.”

J. Allen Swim, Test & Evaluation Engineer, Joint Expeditionary Collective Protection (JECP), JPM-P

“I came to the Engineering Directorate from industry in 2002 as an experienced engineer. Since then, I have participated in the Leadership Cohort, mentoring programs and also led a Balanced Score Card initiative for leadership development. In addition, I have worked in three different PM organizations under the JPEO-CBD and PEO-Ground Combat Systems (GCS). With all of these experiences, I have had the opportunity to learn about ECBC’s core competencies. In my current position, I feel better connected to the Engineering Directorate than in the past and I am able to speak with my Division Chief on a daily basis.

“Right now, I support Product Verification Testing (PVT) testing for the Joint Expeditionary Collective Protection (JECP) project by assisting in test site location, test plan preparation, and test execution and oversight. Support includes traveling to the test sites as needed throughout test events to oversee systems during testing. While I was matrixed to the PEO-GCS, I served as the CBRN engineer for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCB) program as an expert in protection, detection, decontamination, and contamination survivability. This required an understanding of how all of the JPEO-CBD portfolio could be integrated onto a ground combat vehicle, and the ability to provide the necessary technical information to support vehicle development. It is hugely rewarding to contribute to an acquisition program that directly benefits the Warfighter.”

Michael Trzeciak, Director, Engineering and Acquisition, JPM-G

“I have an incredibly challenging and rewarding job representing the Joint Project Manager-Guardian (JPM-G) and providing acquisition leadership and guidance to three Joint Product Directors that span the mission space of Force Protection, Emergency Management and CBRNE Response. This mission space is so broad and diverse that it offers JPM-G a wide range of opportunities to provide the Warfighter with unique and critically-needed capabilities at an extremely fast pace. The position pushes me to constantly learn and grow throughout the Chemical and Biological Defense and Force Protection enterprises. I identify, cultivate and lead JPM-G efforts to build coalitions and partnerships in order to drive government efficiency and build future business opportunities with our Joint services and government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“As a matrixed employee, I represent both the JPEO-CBD and ECBC, and facilitate awareness and understanding of each other’s needs while sharing and keeping the lines of communication open. Being matrixed, I have the advantage to reach out to two different organizations for guidance and mentorship and am able to have a much broader impact throughout the community. Both organizations consider me a key member of their team and allow me opportunities to professionally excel while providing world-class support to the Warfighter.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Kostick

This month’s ECBC Spotlight is on Ryan Kostick, Program Analyst, JPEO Biosurveillance Management Office.

What attracted you to working for the Army?

One of the biggest draws to working for the Army and government was the opportunity to explore various career paths. The willingness of the ECBC organization to rotate personnel and allow them to explore alternate teams and positions was an attractive feature because it felt like the organization wanted to keep their personnel satisfied and place people in environments where they may thrive. Working for the Army has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, to places I’d never visit otherwise. Working for the Army and traveling to military installations across the world opened my eyes to just how critical the work done by scientists and engineers in the DoD is.

What are the benefits of being a matrixed employee?

Being a matrixed employee introduces the practices and organizational construct of an outside organization. Seeing the organization’s business and management structure has helped provide a comparison to my previous experience with ECBC and has helped formulate my opinion on the different approaches and practices. Networking is also one of the largest benefits of a matrixed employee. My current role has afforded the chance to work with people outside of engineering and more focused on business practices, contracting and program management. Working with and having the reachback to these people will be beneficial later as I progress through my career.

What are the challenges of being a matrixed employee?

While being a matrixed employee, I have found it hard to interact with the Directorate leadership on a frequent basis compared to the previous opportunities to interact on a daily basis. Prior to moving to the matrix position it was fairly easy to discuss current projects, seek advice while struggling and to continue building on mentor/mentee relationships.

What is the most exciting project you have worked on as a matrixed employee?

I’m currently focused on the development of a “Demonstration Model” that is closely related to the traditional Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Model. This model is an endeavor by the JPEO with the intent to accelerate acquisition and delivery of capability to the warfighter. This effort has the potential to have long-lasting effects on the business model of the JPEO and expediently fill capability gaps where they may exist.

What do you feel has been your biggest success in your career so far?

I consider my biggest success in my career so far to be a completed effort early in my career. While working with the Fixed Site Collective Protection Team, I led an effort to provide support at a military installation OCONUS. The effort required tracking and managing facility information, inspection records, conducting and certifying facilities, and training contractors at the installation on Collective Protection installation and protection to provide the installation an enduring capability. This effort pushed me past my comfort level in project management and provided the confidence and skills to tackle unfamiliar projects and endeavors.

What are your hobbies/activities outside of work?

I still play soccer in a few men’s leagues and I have begun working with electronics and circuitry for home DIY projects that utilize computer programming and physical hardware such as sensors to interact with the environment (light, temperature, motion, etc.).