Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SEAP Students Present Summer Projects to ECBC Workforce

Photo credit: Jennifer Carroll, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center
Danielle Nguyen participated in the SEAP program for the second consecutive year. She supported the JPM-BD Team with ‘Business and Communications Support for the Advanced Planning Brief to Industry’ and was mentored by Tom Buonaugurio and Malcolm Goodman this year.
Aberdeen Proving Ground ― The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) selected 15 high school students ― through the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP) ―to work with leading scientists and engineers across the Center over the summer.

Before their departure, SEAP students presented their project work to ECBC’s leadership and workforce members August 15. They also used this occasion to thank their mentors for their meaningful support.

Patterson Mill High School graduate Danielle Nguyen, who has been a SEAP student for the second consecutive year, shared some fun facts about the Pentagon and summarized the program impact on her future career at the end of her presentation.

“This experience not only helped me grow as a person, but also taught me that time management and strong communications skills are key [to a successful career],” she said. “It is not about how much you do, but about what you do and what you take away from this program.”

“I was very lucky that that my mentors let me take a huge amount of leadership,” Nguyen continued and expressed a special thanks to her mentors ‘Mac’ and ‘Tom B’, the SEAP Program Lead at ECBC Mark Schlein, as well as Program Coordinator Regina Ryan.

SEAP is an eight-week summer program for high school students and graduates, jointly sponsored George Washington University and the Department of Defense. Designed for students to apprentice in fields of their choice with experienced scientists and engineers, the program offers students the opportunity to make informed career decisions. While contributing to real-world research, they acquire hands-on experience and a broader view of various career pathways in science, technology, engineering and math.

Working in Army research and development laboratories allows students to apprentice in a professional setting and learn how their research can benefit the warfighter and first responders.

“Our goal is to challenge SEAP students at ECBC and engage them in relevant projects that help us achieve our mission,” Schlein said. “And, I am very impressed with the progress they made and the results they revealed during the past few weeks.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

JPM NBC CA and ECBC – Bringing Operational Capability to the Warfighter: An Interview with JPM NBC CA COL Daniel J. McCormick and Deputy JPM NBC CA Nancy Kammerer

Joint Project Manager for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance (JPM NBC CA) COL Daniel J. McCormick and Deputy JPM NBC CA Nancy Kammerer discuss the JPM NBC CA and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's working relationship and their common mission to provide operational capability to the Warfighter.

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center: How long have you worked with JPM NBC CA?
Nancy Kammerer: I’ve worked in the chemical community for almost 30 years, and I’ve worked for the JPM NBC CA for most of the past 20 years. A large portion of that time I worked as an ECBC matrixed employee. I am in a unique position because I’ve been on both sides – core staff of JPM NBC CA and a matrixed employee of ECBC.
COL Daniel McCormick: In 2001, the anthrax letters hit, and I was pulled in by MG Reeves to run CB defense operations in the Capital region. That was my first shot over the bow with the CB defense community. In 2003, I came to Edgewood to serve as the Joint Product Manager of Reconnaissance. I did that for three years. Nancy and I have been leading this great team together for the last couple of years.
ECBC: How does the partnership between ECBC and JPM NBC CA contribute to the JPM’s capability offerings in the development, production, integration, testing and fielding of NBC detection, obscuration and reconnaissance systems?
NK: Our primary workforce that executes the JPM NBC CA program consists of ECBC matrixed employees. In particular, JPM NBC CA has a unique relationship with ECBC in the test capability area. We are building some of the test infrastructure that supports areas that ECBC executes and runs. We also use Engineering’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM) to build prototypes in addition to equipment that goes directly into the field, such as the Dismounted Reconnaissance Joint Urgent Operational Needs Systems. We have also developed a very strong relationship with the ECBC Engineering Obscuration and Nonlethal Engineering Branch. Our established relationships with the Center, and in particular within the Engineering Directorate, span the full lifecycle. They provide a critical foundation for the mission capabilities of JPM NBC CA.
CDM: JPM NBC CA’s sole purpose is to bring operational capability to the Warfighter. The relationship between JPM NBC CA and ECBC is not an enabling relationship; it is the foundation. JPM NBC CA could not do our mission to bring capability to the Warfighter without ECBC. It’s probably a stronger relationship than with any other PM. Although the entire Chemical Biological Defense Program (CBDP) benefits from it, our shop is almost all ECBC matrixed employees, and we have cross-level expertise across the two workforces in and outside of the labs. We partner with the Engineering Directorate on a variety of experiments as we move forward to shape the technology that comes through our shop, developing the equipment that goes into the hands of our Warfighters. Whether it’s lending capability-based expertise to further our mission or providing support in our weekly staff phone calls to ensure that inter-organizational activities are in sync, we would not exist – people or capability – without ECBC.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One Goal in Mind: ‘Protecting the Warfighter’ ― A MUSIP Student Testimonial by Richard A. Negri

ECBC Technical Director Joseph Wienand recognizes MUSIP student Richard A. Negri and his mentor Michael Benham during the students’ final presentations at the Center’s Berger Auditorium.
I would like to highly recommend the Minority Undergraduate Summer Internship Program (MUSIP) at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC) for all students pursuing a Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics (STEM) degree at an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited institution. The MUSIP program is a unique experience for all its participants. However, the knowledge and experience gained is universal. The MUSIP program will encourage its participants to push the envelope of innovation, and learn the true meaning of team work.

The culture at ECBC is one that is welcoming and family oriented, with one goal in mind: protecting the warfighter. Every single part of ECBC, no matter how minuscule or grandiose, directly impacts the warfighter. Why? Because, the warfighter protects the very liberties and freedoms that our great nation was built upon, the very liberties and freedoms we sometimes take for granted each day. The MUSIP program at ECBC shows it’s participants that they are working for something greater than themselves, and that they should be proud of the fact.

The MUSIP program selects some of the best and brightest STEM aspirants to mentor into leaders and become familiar with war fighter focused efforts. Moreover, the MUSIP programs offers the opportunity to visit historical and national landmarks, meet with military and civilian leadership, gain hands on experience within and outside their field of study, and travel, just to name a few. The unique experiences of the MUSIP program are invaluable to its participants and have been enough to stimulate and motivate passion towards aiding the effort in protecting the warfighter, a statement that I can personally attest too.

I was first introduced to the MUSIP program in February of the spring 2010 semester at Morgan State University, and I have spent two consecutive summers with the MUSIP program thereafter. I have built friendships and come across mentors that I know will continue to guide and motivate me for a lifetime. In addition, it has embedded in me a new found meaning to the phrase “service to others,” the motto of my Jesuit High School. I have a new sense of pride for my country and those who defend it, and it has become a part of me to strive to work my hardest to make their job more intuitive, efficient, and safe. My experiences with the MUSIP program have been nothing, but positive, and I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of such a great opportunity, great organization and great effort. So it is with great pleasure that I recommend the MUSIP program to all STEM aspirants, who wish to make a difference and commit to an effort greater than themselves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ECBC "Homegrown Talents” Welcomed Assets in the Joint Project Manager for Biological Defense

For nearly 15 years, the Joint Project Manager for Biological Defense (JPM-BD) has maintained a longstanding partnership with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC). With a robust mission to create and sustain affordable materiel solutions that can detect, identify, warn, deter and defeat biological threats to the joint forces, Acting JPM-BD Joe Cartelli says the “homegrown talents” of ECBC’s Engineering and Research & Technology (R&T) Directorates have been welcomed assets to achieve the JPM’s mission.
“We’ve been grateful to use the expertise of ECBC, particularly the Engineering and R&T Directorates,” Cartelli said. “We have a strong relationship with the Center.”
ECBC provides lifecycle acquisition personnel and associated acquisition and engineering services to the JPEO-CBD and its JPMs throughout all acquisition phases of CB defense equipment programs. Currently, 53 ECBC Engineering employees are matrixed to JPM-BD.
“In terms of hiring, I’d say that 95 percent of our hiring has been through the Engineering Directorate. We have more than 50 individuals from Engineering that make up our JPM-BD personnel. It helps to know that we have support to get the needed personnel. Engineering does a great job of getting us the right staff,” Cartelli said.
JPM-BD provides defensive equipment and technology to detect and identify biological threats in near-real-time. Their family of biological detection systems collect and assimilate data for commanders who require an understanding of natural and man-made biological hazards in their areas of operation.
The JPM’s work in system acquisition falls into two primary areas: point detection and standoff detection. The systems are critical to the areas of sense, shield and sustain and meet the needs of U.S. Armed Forces to warn personnel of imminent hazards (pre-attack) and aid in the treatment of personnel exposed to a biological hazard (post-attack).
The science required for the near-real-time detection and identification of biological agents in the environment has numerous challenges. Biological agent detection and identification science relies upon the development of unique sensing technology, algorithms and procedures in order to detect the micron-sized biological particles that mimic what already exists in the environment. Unlike chemical agent detection and identification, near-real-time biological agent detection and identification requires the acquisition of orthogonal technologies that are under development by JPM-BD as well as the JPM Chemical Biological Medical Systems and JPM Gaurdian.

“Chemical agents are unnatural, and they react with the air, making it easier to detect,” said JPM-BD Deputy of Point Biological Systems Tom Buonaugurio. “With biological detectors, the air must be sampled and concentrated first to determine if there are any agents in the air. Scientists look for toxins, spores and bacteria in order to detect biological contamination in the air.

“Point detection in particular sucks in the air and then analyzes whether or not there are unknown agents. However, this procedure only indicates that there is something in the air; not whether it is harmful. The airstreams are then mixed with phosphate buffer solution and placed on strips that act as pregnancy tests, which identify the agent.”

The Engineering Directorate’s work in Bio-Defense began in earnest after the Gulf War in 1991 when Iraq threatened the use of biological weapons against various neighboring states. One of the most notable projects ECBC Engineering undertook in Bio-Defense was a point detection system called the BIDS. The program was conducted in three phases: the M31 Non-Developmental item (NDI) BIDS (initially fielded in 1995 and retired in 2006); the M31A1 Pre- Planned Product Improvement (P3I) BIDS, (initially fielded in 1999 and retired in 2011); and the M31A2 BIDS (initially fielded in 2003). The first generation of the BIDS combined a variety of standard laboratory equipment into a military vehicle to provide early warning and identification capabilities in response to a large area biological warfare attack. The NDI BIDS was a manual system and served as a predecessor for the semi-automated P3I M32A2 BIDS as well as the fully automated M31A2 BIDS, whose acquisition program was initiated in July 1996 by the Joint Product Manager for the JBPDS (a direct-reporting JPM to the JPM-BD).

System engineering design and testing lasted six years, and operational testing and evaluations added another seven years. For more than 10 years, the JPM has acquired systems under an extended Low Rate Initial Production and Full Rate Production, and currently there are more that 50 JBPDS on U.S. Navy surface ships and approximately 450 in the U.S. Army’s M31A2 BIDS.

“Engineering was involved in the integration of BIDS between1996-2007. In response to the events of September 11th, the DoD had an immediate need for an automated point biological detection capability around the Pentagon Reservation,” Cartelli said. “The JPM-BD worked with Engineering’s ADM to integrate JBPDSs into eight Homeland Defense trailers and within two months deployed these around the Pentagon.”

ECBC has also assisted JPM-BD in the development of their standoff detection family of systems. The general concept behind standoff detection is to sense agents in the air several kilometers before they travel to the Warfighter. The goal is to minimize the exposure to harmful agents. Standoff tries to give advance warning and promote situational readiness. The technology is complex and extensive but useful for Soldiers.

“JPM-BD’s standoff detection team relied heavily on ECBC to help mature the technology and to make sure that all went well with the projects,” Lead Systems Engineer John Strawbridge said. “We worked with Engineering’s ADM Division and also with Engineering’s Acquisitions and Logistics Division. We understand what the Directorate can provide and we keep the lines of communication open.”

In addition to JPM-BD’s acquisition support of point and standoff biological detection systems, the JPM’s science and technology (S&T) strategy team is working towards the development of an environmental biological surveillance system using Advanced Technology Demonstrations as a test bed.

“Currently, there is not an effective way to detect the rare and complex biological elements in the air. The air environment itself may be causing issues the Warfighters,” Cartelli said. “Without any way to distinguish potentially harmful biological agents in the air from other ‘normal’ biological elements, they are at risk of being exposed.”

In order to provide protection for the Warfighter, JPM-BD’s S&T team has been in the process of researching the technology needed to develop this environmental biological surveillance system.

From providing technical and functional expertise to administrative tasks, Cartelli noted that “having the extended capabilities afforded by the Engineering Directorate has allowed JPM-BD to better meet the requirements and demand for biological detection systems.

“JPM-BD has a strong relationship with Engineering, partly because we are co-located at Edgewood and partly because the folks in Engineering are looking to partner and share information for the purpose of bettering the state of Bio-Technology and DoD’s Bio-Defense capabilities,” Cartelli said. “We are able to accomplish a lot of things because we are both committed to the Warfighter, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with ECBC.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Mission, One Team: An Interview with Douglas Bryce, SES Deputy Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical Biological (CB) Defense

Mr. Douglas Bryce, SES, Deputy JPEO for CB Defense, discusses the organization’s recent move from Falls Church, Va. to the Aberdeen Proving Ground Edgewood Area.

ECBC: The Joint Program Executive Office for CB Defense (JPEO-CBD) is just a month away from being fully transitioned from your original headquarters location in Falls Church, Va. to Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Edgewood Area. What has been a highlight of the JPEO-CBD’s phased relocation to Edgewood?
DOUGLAS BRYCE: First, I would like to say that we are looking forward to coming to the Edgewood area to continue our mission. This is something we have prepared for in the past few years, and we anticipate a great organizational upswing by transitioning to Edgewood.
We took a phased approach to the relocation, and one of our highlights is that by the end of February, 55% of our workforce was located in Edgewood. Seven months before closing our Falls Church location, more than half of our organization has completed the BRAC transition. With our organization between Falls Church and multiple offices in Edgewood, another highlight is the successful use of our information technology tools to maintain operations and enable user-friendly collaboration.
Overall, I believe that we have gotten better and that this transition has made our organization stronger. What I would like everyone to come away with is that our top priorities in this move are taking care of our people and continuity of mission.

Friday, August 5, 2011

BRAC Changes Serve as Catalyst for New Work Processes Between ECBC and Sustainment Partners

With the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) move of two key Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) partners from the Center’s Rock Island facility (ECBC-RI) to Warren, Mich., the workflows for various acquisition, contract, procurement and approval processes have changed significantly.
By September 14, 2011, the U.S. Army TACOM Product Support Integration Directorate and the Army Contracting Command (ACC) will have completed their move from the Rock Island Arsenal to the neighboring Midwestern state, creating a more virtual environment for the work between the three organizations. Additionally, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has taken on a much larger role in the acquisition of CBRN equipment, requiring a mutual understanding between the organizations of the interdependent work processes.
“ECBC, TACOM and ACC have had work processes in place for years. With the BRAC move of TACOM and ACC, we’re looking at a culture shift, a new way of doing things,” ECBC-RI Deputy for Commodity Management John Kerch said. “We have to develop a new ‘normal,’ reestablishing process goals and building new relationships.”