Thursday, December 13, 2012

Engineering a Legacy: Pete Annunziato ATD Branch Chief Reflects on 40 years of ECBC


When Peter Annunziato, Branch Chief of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Engineering Directorate’s Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Branch, looks back at his nearly 41- year career with ECBC, he has one prominent message to pass onto the rest of the workforce.
                                    
“Know when to shoot your inner engineer,” said Annunziato, who is retiring at the end of 2012. “The hardest thing to do as an engineer or scientist is to know when to stop. Your instinct is to want to work out every little problem and perfect every detail, but unless the change is a matter of safety, know when to draw the line in the sand and call it a
day.”

Knowing when to stop and reassess the situation, is a value that Annunziato said can be applied to multiple aspects of a career, not just a specific project.

“The work we do here is serious business. We are supporting our Warfighters and that is huge,” Annunziato said. “But at the same time, you can’t take the job so seriously that you are constantly stressed out or don’t enjoy the work. If you can’t enjoy it, then do something else you can enjoy.”

Annunziato said enjoying the people, the work, and the sense of community is what kept him at ECBC for four decades. Signs of his dedication will continue to be present at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), from the M58 Wolf that sits near the entrance to the Route 24 gate, to the lessons that he taught the people he worked with.

While “shooting the engineer” is a motto that Annunziato can now pass on to future generations, it was not always his mantra. Years of projects, interactions and learning to make the most of new opportunities helped transform him from a detail-oriented systems engineer to a respected Branch Chief who earned the 2009 Baltimore Federal Executive Board Excellence in Federal Career for Outstanding Supervisor Gold Award, and the 2010 Ancient Order of the Dragon Award.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Parts Five and Six: David Love/Tom Hughes

In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of November. This final installment features David Love and Tom Hughes, both chemists with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

David Love


What leader (famous or personal leader) inspires you the most and what qualities do he or she possess that others can learn from?

There have been two personal leaders that inspired me; one was a community leader during my young adult hood and a supervisor during my professional career. Their personalities were different but they both were honest, trustworthy and treated everyone the same. They made sacrifices for the betterment of the whole. The community leader sacrificed his time and money to advocate for the youth in our community. My supervisor sacrificed his time to enhance his employee skills and advocate to upper management for those he was responsible for. The community leader was also my sports coach and he always encouraged us to do our best and he never showed disappointment when we did not win. He would say “did you do your best”?  We would say yes, he would say “that is all I ask, is that you do your best.”


What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received and how have you applied said advice in your daily life?

The best advice that I have ever received is that “you don’t fail, you learn.” No matter what the task is in front of me, I know that if I keep trying, I will eventually learn how to do it and get better at doing it. Failure is not part of my vocabulary.


Can you describe your biggest achievement or disappointment, and what lesson you learned from it?

I had very good athletic skills when I was a young adult and like most youths, I wanted to become a professional athlete (football player). When we played pickup football in the community, I was always chosen first or second to play. There was an organized football team that all the best athletes in the community played on and they had a reputation for winning.

I tried out for the football team and I got cut, I did not make the team.  The hardest part was facing my peers, telling them that I did not make the team. Seeing the disappointment in their eyes hurt.

I learned two things from not making the team; one is that by trying out for the team I learned what I needed to improve on in order to make the team the next year. Second, I learned that life is about timing, it just was not my time. I made the team the next year and the third year I player, we were the POP Warner National Champs.

In your own words, what shapes an effective leader?

The one thing that shapes most leaders is their experiences good and bad. A leader must understand himself/herself, this means knowing his/her strengths and weaknesses. He or she also must take time to know the strengths and weaknesses of those that he/she are responsible for. He/she must be able to communicate and share his/her passion with those around them. They must be willing to take full responsibility when things don’t go well and give credit to the team when the results are successful.  He/she must be willing to sacrifice whatever it takes for the betterment of all, even if it means he has to do the dirty work. He/she must have confidence in order to raise the level of those he/she is responsible for. An effective leader not only has to be a coach, but he/she needs to be coachable. He/She must have faith and be humble and realize that you cannot do it alone it takes support.

David Love is a chemist for the Protection Equipment Test Branch at ECBC.  He holds an AS Degree in Chemical Engineering, a BS degree in Chemistry and a MS Degree in Business Administration. Love has 30 years of chemical laboratory and supervisory experience, and has worked 20 years in the commercial industry for Union Carbide, Olin Industries, Cytec Industry and Battelle.  In his spare time, David volunteers with the youth in his community.

Leadership Blog Part Six: Tom Hughes


One of the hardest parts of being a new employee at ECBC is reading and understanding all of the rules, policies and procedures that allow us to do our work safely.  For a new employee, navigating the maze of requirements from the DoD level policy to the Branch-level SOPs used every day can be intimidating.  While the high level requirements leave no wiggle room for interpretation, the ECBC guidance and procedures developed for laboratory operations are written in-house and are edited annually.  This annual SOP review provides the perfect opportunity for new group members to become familiarized with and ultimately responsible for the SOPs used in the laboratory.
While the SOP review is the most obvious place to start to talk about authoring and understanding laboratory documents, there are other important aspects of laboratory operations that should go through a similar review.  The two that come to my mind are waste procedures and quality system documentation.  Each laboratory at ECBC generates a unique waste stream and as such will often benefit from review and clarification/specification of the waste IOP provided by the EQO.  Similarly, each laboratory performs unique tests with unique equipment configurations.  By taking the time to prepare and perform a group review of IOPs pertaining to their specific tests, laboratories can promote a more thorough and unambiguous understanding of the work being performed.
In order for there to be a group "buy-in" to the guiding documents of a laboratory, everyone needs to understand what the documents are saying and agree (at least for the most part!) that the documents say it in a clear manner.  It takes a strong leader to first motivate a group to collectively develop the necessary documents for a quality system.  It then takes an even stronger leader to then reconcile the differing opinions from the group into a coherent and concise set of documents that the laboratory personnel can agree to work under.  While it may not seem glamorous, my opinion is that the leader described above does more for a group than any other person alone.
Tom Hughes is an analytical chemist in the Applied Detection Technology Branch of ECBC.  Hughes graduated from Penn State Univeristy in 2009 with a Bachelor's Degree in chemistry.

The content in this blog entry does not represent the views or beliefs of ECBC, its employees, its management or the federal government. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Part Four: Phyllis Brown

In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of November. This fourth installment features Phyllis Brown, an engineer with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).

When I think of the term “leadership”, I sometimes think about Tom Wolfe’s best seller, The Right Stuff.  I was first introduced to Wolfe’s quest to find the answer to why the chosen seven men of the first manned space program (Project Mercury) were willing to risk their lives to venture into space while I was attending the Officer Basic Course as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The story seemed to stick with me as I set out on my own journey to find out if I possessed the right stuff to become a great leader. I am sure that I am no different than others who have also gone on this search to conclude that no amount of courses, training, workshops, or reading can prepare you for leadership other than going through the experience for yourself. Leadership reveals truths about one’s character, personality, strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, abilities to influence others to follow or make changes happen. We can all learn from Colin Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership, but must realize that they resulted from his experiences which included particular assignments, environments, people, and other circumstantial impacts that shaped his leadership. However, I have to admit that Mr. Powell’s rules are very practical and seemingly applicable for any leader. After twenty six years of climbing up the leadership ranks, I have my own rules of leadership and have learned Wolfe’s discoverey that the right stuff for a great leader is more than machismo or other physical characteristics. 

A few of my rules:

-          Know yourself. This is critical, a good starting place, and includes knowing what you bring as an asset (your knowledge, skills, attributes, gifts, and talents), your  communication and leadership styles, and your beliefs. Nothing is more important than being true to self. 
-          Be confident. (Never let them see you sweat.)
-          Do the right thing and,
-          Be prepared to stand alone.
-          Serve others. Self-serving leaders are found out quickly.
-          Know where or who to for help. Even the best leaders have limitations.
-          Stay positive. Negative energy is a waste of time.
-          Never Fear (False Evidence Appearing Real).  Get the facts and work through to make the unknowns knowns if possible.

Phyllis Brown is an engineer with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and is currently matrixed to the Joint Product Manager – Consequence Management. Brown is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and is currently the Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Reserves Consequence Management Unit, Abingdon, Maryland.

The content in this blog entry does not represent the views or beliefs of ECBC, its employees, its management or the federal government. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Part Three: Jarell Johnson


In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of November. This third installment features Jarell Johnson, Computer Scientist for the Product Data Management Branch of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).
 
"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”- Ralph Nader.

The term “leader” is used generously these days to signify someone in a leadership role, but there is much more to being a true leader. I believe that a true leader is someone who does not seek followers. Leaders want to teach others how to be leaders. They enlighten, enable and empower their employees. A true leader guides, but does not dictate to people.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Part Two: Kerrin Dame



In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of November. This second installment features Kerrin Dame, Physical Scientist for the Detection Engineering Branch of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).

Over the course of my 25-year career in federal service, I have been blessed with many great supervisors. Some of my most influential supervisors were men and women who were able to foster an environment of trust and respect in those around them and were people I considered to be of high integrity. 

I have learned as a Mom (my most important job!) that our children are constantly watching us, whether we realize it or not, and our behavior will be reflected in their behavior at some point. The old saying “Be careful the friends you chose, as you will become like them,” is as relevant today as it was when first written. A leader’s behavior can positively or negatively reflect on his subordinates and others around him or her. An effective leader will strive to be a good example for others and always give 100 percent, no matter what they are doing. They are transparent with no hidden agendas and want to do what is best for the team, not just for themselves. An effective leader is open to suggestions from others who may be able to see things from a different perspective. They do the “next right thing” no matter what others around them are doing. 

 Most importantly to me, a good leader will listen, listen, listen, and will think before speaking. An effective leader is kinder than he or she needs to be. These traits help to build an environment of trust and respect, in which people can work together to successfully accomplish common goals.

Kerrin Dame serves as a Physical Scientist for the Detection Engineering Branch of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).  Ms. Dame holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Unity College in Maine.

The content in this blog entry does not represent the views or beliefs of ECBC, its employees, its management or the federal government. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Part One: Chika Nzelibe

In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of November. This first installment features Chika Nzelibe, Mechanical Engineer in the Engineering Directorate’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division.

What leader inspired me the most?  It’s hard to pinpoint just one leader who inspired me the most.  More than a few have had a major impact on my life. 

My father, who saw his son at his wit’s end with school work, found a way to inspire me to keep at it, and to never give up. My drill sergeant, who challenged me to go that extra mile when I thought I had nothing left in the tank. And I can’t forget the co-worker, who saw a young engineer, fresh out of college, and took time out of their busy schedule to show me the ropes. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Out of the Box: ECBC Innovation Contest Sparks Unique, All-in-One COlored Smoke Grenade Design

A winning design from the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's (ECBC) Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch is revolutionizing the way the U.S. military uses color smoke grenades, potentially diminishing the physical burden on Warfighters to carry multiple colored smoke grenades.
The M18 series of colored smoke grenades are an important signal tool for the modern Warfighter. Current M18 grenades contain one color (violet, red, yellow or green) smoke per grenade, with about 350 grams of dye in each. Since each smoke grenade serves a distinct purpose, the Warfighter is often required to carry most or all colors, at all times, adding a physical burden that could affect their speed, mission and make less space for other mission critical items. Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch Chief Joe Domanico, hopes to mitigate the physical challenges of carrying multiple smoke grenades with a new Selectable Color Single Canister Smoke Hand Grenade.
Domanico’s new design placed first in ECBC's Innovation Contest. The contest, which called for Skunk Works from across the Center, split $50,000 among the top three winners to continue to research and improve their designs. The Selectable Color Single Canister Smoke Hand Grenade utilizes solid state fluid logic within the lightweight grenade body for the selection of the desired color. Using an additional blue color, a single grenade has the ability to produce up to seven different smoke colors.
 “In the new design there are three dye compartments, each filled with a primary color: yellow, red and blue,” said Domanico. “The top part of the grenade has two dials. If a user twists one dial, the apparatus reveals one dye color. If they twist both dials, two colors are revealed, at once creating a new color.”
For example, if a Warfighter needed to use an orange smoke grenade, they would twist the grenade to unlock the red and yellow dye, revealing the orange color. Yellow and blue make the standard green color dye, red and blue make the violet dye.
“All of these color possibilities are made available to the Warfighter in one canister – that has not been done before,” said Domanico.
The grenade also produces a seventh color. When all three dyes are released at the same time, the grenade produces a nearly black smoke – the seventh color. Not only does black create a new signal color, but using all of the dyes at the same time produces the maximum amount of smoke, providing for a concentrated screen or a signal.
The Selectable Color Single Canister Smoke Hand Grenade does not just make seven colors of a grenade available on one device it makes seven grenades available on one device.
“A common misconception about color smoke grenades is that it is one grenade design in four different colors,” Domanico said. “Actually each color grenade is a different thermodynamically balanced systems, and each dye handles the heat and gas differently. Since they are all different formulations, they are all different grenades.”
The grenade is broken into compartments, one of which contains the balanced fuel/oxidizer/coolant pellet. The new fuel pellet uses a newly developed low-burning-temperature thermochemistry system that provides the correct amounts of heat and gas. The dyes are blended with other non-energetic components which compensate for their different thermochemical needs. This allows a single fuel pellet to be used for every color dye. This arrangement minimizes the unused portion of the grenade. Basically, the soldier is carrying a “screening” grenade (similar to the M83 TA Smoke Grenade that is standard now) which emits a large dark gray smoke cloud, or by twisting the fluid logic block at the top of the grenade, they can use the grenade as a signal to emit one of six colors. (Note: the M83 TA Smoke Grenade was initially developed by the Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch for use by NASA in aerodynamic testing of fighter aircraft at 30,000 feet altitude; later adopted by the US Armed Forces as an interim AN-M8 HC Screening Grenade replacement due to its lower toxicity to the soldier and the environment.)
The Branch recently conducted testing work to lower the toxicity of the red and violet smoke colors. Previously, the green and yellow smokes were redesigned for lower toxicity. Currently, they are working on the blue dye. All of these new compounds will be used in the Selectable Color Single Canister Smoke Hand Grenade, making the entire mechanism better for Warfighters and the environment than previous styles.
When evaluating the colored smoke dyes, the Branch developed and uses a Smoke Protocol Test that determines the dye’s suitability for use in a smoke grenade. Only 25 grams of a candidate dye is needed to complete the analysis in under a week’s time. The Protocol Test determines the upper and lower temperature limits of the dye, its density in producing a smoke cloud, and the suitability of the smoke cloud’s color.
Domanico and his team will use the money from the ECBC Innovation Contest to demonstrate a full scale prototype grenade designed and manufactured within the Pyrotechnic Loading Facility. They will then demonstrate the grenade to the proper Project Managers who have already shown interest in the design.
“The success of this project will be a program of record to get this technology into the hands of the Warfighter.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ECBC Strategy Makes Customers Top Priority

With the completion of Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) and the beginning of FY13, ECBC’s directors share an update on the Center’s three main strategic goals: Customers, People and Emerging Threats. In the first blog post, Director of Program Integration Suzanne Milchling discusses steps that have been taken and initiatives that are planned to answer our customers’ calls.

I’m Suzanne Milchling, the Director of Program Integration and champion for the customer goal here at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC). In this blog post, I’d like give you some insight into the Center’s FY12 costumer goal achievements and into our upcoming plans for FY13.

As the champion for customer goal initiatives, my role is to help ensure that ECBC continues to provide excellent and consistent customer service to its clients in the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) defense arena. In helping our customers tackle their current and future challenges, we strive to equip and empower the warfighter with innovative technologies that counter enduring and emerging chemical and biological (CB) threats.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Supporting the Warfighter, One Partnership at a Time: An Interview with COL Alfred Abramson III, JPM NBC CA

Colonel Alfred Abramson III, the new Joint Project Manager for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Contamination Avoidance (JPM NBC CA), avid golfer, and father of four, discusses his background, new role and JPM NBC CA’s longstanding relationship with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).
Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC): How long have you been the JPM NBC CA?
COL Alfred Abramson III (AA): I started my current role as JPM NBC CA on June 19, 2012, but I have held three other positions with the organization in the past. I first started working with what ended up becoming JPM NBC CA in 1996 as an Assistant Team Leader, then in 2002 as an Assistant Product Manager and lastly in 2007 as a Joint Product Manager. I returned for my current role this year in 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets, Kits, and Outfits help Warfighters Assess Chemical Biological Threats

Imagine a team of Soldiers or Marines conducting a sensitive site assessment of a dilapidated chemical factory in the Middle East that may contain unknown Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) or possible precursors to chemical or biological agents. Or perhaps a team of Sailors are required to board and search a non-descript Mediterranean fishing vessel at sea and discover clandestine laboratory equipment. Today these Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors have limited capability to assess these threats. In the future, these same service members will use the enhanced capabilities provided by the Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets, Kits, and Outfits (DR SKO).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ECBC Provides Stamp of Approval with Laboratory Performance Certification Program


At a time when contractors and Government agencies face reduced budgets, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Laboratory Performance Certification Program remains vigilant in holding contractor and Government testing facilities accountable to the highest standards of Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) and non-CBRN materiel testing. Lab Performance Certification is a product-specific program instituted by ECBC, which validates compliance with testing requirements of materiel and agents at Government and contractor test facilities. The certification covers a variety of CBRN and non-CBRN products on a non-exclusive basis.

The lab certification auditing process is implemented by the ECBC Qualification Procedure Team (QPT), which ensures the integrity of the test results for the protection of product end users.

“Since the program began in 2004, more than 130 lab certification audits have been performed by the ECBC QPT, involving more than 5,000 items at various facilities across the United States and Canada,” Diane Freeman, Product Quality Management Chief said.

The Lab Performance Certification acknowledges test facilities that maintain a level of quality consistent with good laboratory practices, customer expectations and testing requirements (contract/statement or scope of work). Contractor and Government labs are certified for up to one year and must be recertified each year to continue testing for ECBC QPT customers.

Contracts require lab certification for chemical and biological materiel. Simply stated, ECBC QPT customers request laboratory performance certification support from ECBC’s QPT, which conducts a thorough, three-phased audit process. After certification, customers may direct their workload to the certified testing facility.

The QPT rigorously inspects audits and evaluates the testing facility on a variety of criteria to ensure the testing facility has an established process in place to meet the testing and contract requirements.

“When a test facility receives a Lab Performance Certification Letter and Certificate, they have earned it,” said Adrian Henry, QPT Lead.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ECBC's ADM Prevents Fire Related Injuries to Warfighters through Letterkenny Army Depot Partnership

E
dgewood Chemical Biological Center's (ECBC) Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM) is partnering with the Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD), near Chambersburg, Pa., to save Warfighters from smoke inhalation and other fire effects of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle damages.


ADM and LEAD worked together to design and create a production plan for the Macaw Fire Suppression System (FSS) Mount. The Mount will allow for fire rescue supplies to be stored in an easily accessible place, so that Warfighters can use them when needed. ADM will begin fabrication of 10 prototype units.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Word from the Wise: Packaging Branch Preserves Past Lessons for Future


The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Packaging branch retired two influential members of its team at the end of 2011 - Nancy Waltman, previous Chief of the Packaging Branch and Dean Hansen, a senior packaging specialist.

With Waltman and Hansen having 60-plus years of combined experience, it would seem that 2012 would leave the seven remaining Packaging Branch team members with painful transitions and possible gaps in the knowledge base. However, thanks to strategic foresight on the parts of Waltman and Hansen, as well as excellent teamwork between the remaining Branch members, those 60 years of knowledge were able to remain, despite Waltman’s and Hansen’s departures.

“I think Nancy really understood the importance of retaining knowledge in an aging workforce,” said Ed Bowen, Strategic Planning and Business Operations Branch Chief in ECBC's Engineering Directorate. “As an original member of the Engineering Balanced Scorecard Core Team, she helped the group establish the IP 11 Retain Knowledge and Expertise Relevant to Core Competencies Strategic Objective as a part of the strategy. She put it into practice with her Branch as well.”

In November 2011, in an effort to maintain the momentum of the Branch’s success, Waltman and Hansen hosted Knowledge Retention workshops to pass on their combined 60-plus years
of knowledge to the seven remaining members of their Branch. Their first was a Stand-Down, where the Branch set aside their projects for the afternoon to meet in Waltman’s office and discuss the business operations and strategic management aspects of packaging work.

While hosting the Stand-Down was a more formal method for transitioning knowledge, Packaging team members say it was the everyday practices that set them up for success in the absence of Waltman and Hansen’s knowledge base.

“We were pretty involved in the kind of work that Nancy and Dean were doing before they left,” said Debbie Brooks-Harris, packaging specialist. “We worked alongside them rather than under them. That way, nothing was completely new to us, because they really shared the work and shared the processes with us. We didn’t have to start from scratch.”

Brooks-Harris said that working together helped build the team’s confidence to maintain momentum without Waltman and Hansen, and helped the team familiarize themselves with the work that goes on at the top.

“Keeping knowledge retention at the forefront is essential, especially at this time,” Bowen said. “With the Baby Boomer generation due to retire within the next five years, years of experience is due to walk out the door, but with concerted efforts such as in the Packaging Branch, all that does not have to happen. The IP11 Strategic Objective outlines several Directorate-wide solutions to keeping knowledge readable and accessible.”

Another BSC strategic objective that goes hand-in-hand with IP11 is IP10, Establish a Documentation Repository. “We want to ensure that we have historical documents readily accessible,” said Bowen.

Toward that end, Mike Brown is leading the initiative of scanning historical documents into a searchable format that is available to the Engineering workforce via a SharePoint site.

“The historical documents are very helpful,” Brooks-Harris said. “Sometimes it helps to look through older handwritten documents to learn how something was done in the past.”

The resources available have helped the Packaging Branch transition to working without Waltman and Dean, but hard work and teamwork have also helped the group move forward as well.

“It has been a challenge, and they are hard shoes to fill, but I think we have done well,” said Brooks-Harris. “Nancy and Dean are definitely missed, but luckily we still have a great team here who is able to step in when needed and do what needs to be done.”

“We all have our own styles and talents, so the way we combine our skills together to solve a problem may not be the tried and true method, but we end up discovering a new way to do something that is just as effective,” Brooks-Harris said.

In May, the Packaging Branch was awarded with the Packaging Excellence Award from work done in 2011 before Waltman and Hansen retired. The team is confident that there will be more awards in the future.

“Every day is not perfect, there are still struggles,” Brooks-Harris said. “Nancy and Dean had many, many more years of experience that we can not gain in just five months. It will take time to learn everything to their level, but we know we have the resources at hand to get to that point.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Gathering of the Minds: ECBC Facilitates First JACKS-RW Summit


Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Engineering’s Information & Technology Solutions Team (I&TST) facilitated a DoD-wide Joint Acquisition CBRN Knowledge System- Reporting Warehouse (JACKS-RW) Summit, held concurrently at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) and Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) on 4-5 April 2012.

JACKS-RW is a Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological (JPEO-CBD) information management system that is used by all Department of Defense (DoD) Service Branches and Agencies to collect, consolidate, and report Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) stock quantities and serviceability status in support of the Annual Report to Congress (ARC). The system is also an important tool in managing the shelf-life of CBRN assets across DoD.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ECBC Decontamination Engineering Branch Supports JPM-P with Decon Needs for U.S. Armed Forces

One of ECBC's Decontamination Engineering Branch’s core competencies is providing engineering and technical support for decontamination systems to Joint Project Manager-Protection (JPM-P).

This type of support and collaboration is done through several roles and responsibilities, to include the Army Materiel Developer (AMD) role.

As the AMD, Joe Grodecki is the lead Army technical representative for developmental decontamination programs within JPM-P. This includes support on Source Selection Boards, a role in review and approval of key programmatic documents, as well as acting as the Army focal point and voice, in unison with the Army Combat Developer (Maneuver Support Center of Excellence) on Systems Engineering and Test & Evaluation Integrated Product Teams (IPTs).

“During my three years in this position, it has been a tremendous experience. I learn something new every day,” Grodecki said. “The opportunity to work with service representatives, testing agencies, and JPM-P personnel with the objective to provide the best product possible to the Warfighter has been an extremely gratifying experience.”

In addition to the support provided to JPM-P as the AMD, Grodecki and Alex Carlson, DCEB, have worked with JPM-Contamination Avoidance and JPM-P to develop the Decontamination Expeditionary Bag (DEB) as part of the Dismounted Recon Sets Kits and Outfits (DR SKO) program. The DEB is a self-contained, tactical, and independent decontamination system to be used against Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) agents, Toxic Industrial Chemicals, and Toxic Industrial Materials for personnel decontamination. It is a one time use item that is designed to decontaminate up to 24 personnel at a time in each of the services, except the Navy, which has an eight person variant kit. ECBC Engineering and JPM-P have collaborated with the DR SKO program office and the services to ensure the DEB kits contain the necessary equipment for each service to complete their mission. There are currently three variants of the kit: Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

In addition to the DEB kits that ECBC has already helped develop, ECBC Engineering has been designated as the lead for the development and assembly of all future DR SKO DEB requirements as well as for the development of the DEB specification. To date, ECBC Engineering has collaborated with the Dismounted Recon Sets Kits and Outfits (DR SKO) and JPM-P to develop and assemble 37 Army, Marine Corps, and Navy decontamination kits and 20 kits for the Coast Guard.

“We look forward to continuing this effort with JPM-P and the DR SKO program office,” Grodecki said. “It is always exciting to work on a great project with a great group of people.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Through the Smoke: Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch Creates Safer Grenade for the Warfighter

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch is making smoke grenades safer for the Warfighter. The branch is working to slow the burn rate and increase the yield factor of grenade smoke by revamping the screening smoke composition for the AN-M8 HC Screening Smoke Grenade. The new screening smoke composition, labeled HX Smoke Composition, will be used as a direct replacement fill for the AN-M8 HC Screening Smoke Grenade, which has been placed into restricted use due to environmental and toxicology issues.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ECBC Safety Director Reflects on the Center's Superior Safety, Expertise

June is National Safety Month, and as an Army laboratory, the Edgewood Chemical Biological
Center (ECBC) works hard to ensure that the work we do at the Center is safe.

ECBC has been defending the nation from chemical and biological threats since 1917. Since then, we have seen an evolution in the Center’s mission from responding to immediate chemical threats in the First World War to the elimination of weapons in the 1990s and more recently to the vital role ECBC plays in defending the nation against emerging threats. Along with the growth of ECBC’s technical mission, the safety culture has also evolved.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ECBC Scientist Juggles Work at ECBC with serving in the National Guard

ECBC's Stephen Harper discusses how he balances his job as a scientist at ECBC, with his National Guard duties as an active Black Hawk Pilot.

How did you get your start in your current ECBC position and in the National Guard?

Stephen Harper (SH ): I started at ECBC as a contractor in the early 2000s working in the Lab Building Research Systems. As a contractor I did work with the different teams. I started to really like my work and my co-workers at ECBC, so I became an official ECBC employee with the Applied Detection Technology Branch in 2005.

I joined the National Guard prior to working for ECBC. While at ECBC, I took a leave of absence to attend the U.S Army Helicopter Flight School in Fort Rucker, Alabama during the late 1990s. My first deployment happened while I was with ECBC in 2003 when I went to Mosul, Iraq. Between my first deployment and when I got back, I took another break from ECBC to become a U.S. Marshall in Washington, D.C. Then I came back to ECBC in 2008 and had my second deployment to Basrah, Iraq in 2009.

Although I am back at ECBC, I am still active with the National Guard, and deployments can still happen. When they do, I take leave from my work at ECBC, go where I need to go, then come back and pick up where I left off. It might get hectic, but in addition to just loving the feeling of flying a helicopter, I know I am getting a unique experience through my deployments. Not many teams have people who can say they have seen a piece of equipment working downrange in theater. I see what works, I see what does not, and more than that, it allows me to take the work we do here at ECBC very seriously. Lives depend on what we do. That is huge, and that is important.

What are your favorite duties as a scientist and in the Service?

SH : I do a lot of testing that allows me to come up with creative solutions. For example, it might seem like I am doing standard testing with chemical agent, but my challenge might be to find a quick and inexpensive way to keep a chemical at a low temperature. From there, I see what I can do with an off-the-shelf cooler, or with any other solution I can think of. It’s a mix of ingenuity and science. I also love the people I work with. There are some great characters around here that make the job such a joy every day.

As for my job as a pilot, I love the excitement of flying. Sometimes friends ask why I never got into computer or video games and my response is always because I do the real thing. I can receive a phone call from a senior officer that needs to test Night Vision Goggles (NVG), and I get to go to my second job to fly a helicopter with NVGs. To me, nothing could be better. Not only am I having fun, but I am honing my skills so that if they are needed for a real mission I am ready and proficient in my skill.

What project are you currently working on, or have you worked on in the past that you learned the most from or that you found particularly exciting?

SH : I really do find all my projects exciting. Right now we are testing several chemicals for different customers, and that is exciting. In the military, I am slotted to attend an instructor pilot course, and that job keeps evolving and stays interesting. There is much to learn still in all of my areas and that keeps me motivated about the work I do.

What skill do you use in your job that you initially did not think you would need?

SH : The skill that I most need is paying attention to detail and having the ability to put things into larger context. This skill is applicable to being a scientist and a pilot. A lot of people ask me, “what is the link between science and flying helicopters?” To me, the answer is simple: the results are dire if you do not pay attention to detail. It is not just one test, or one flight. It is realizing that if I do not conduct this one test to the best of my ability, or fly this one mission with alertness and precision, the results could be fatal not just to myself, but to others as well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Engineering’s ADM Cuts Costs for Warfighter Training

The United States Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM) embarked on a small training project a year and a half ago that has since expanded and amounted to dollars saved for the U.S. Army and the possibility of a new certification for the Warfighter.

It started when ADM was tasked by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization’s (JIEDDO) training arm, Joint Center of Excellence (JCOE) in January 2012 to provide a solution to a recurring issue: what is a cost-effective approach to training Warfighters on expensive equipment, eliminating the risk of damaging the equipment during training?

The issue came to a head during Husky Mounted Detection System (HMDS) training. The damage caused to the system during the training period had become more expensive than the cost to build the original system.

The HMDS is a kit that attaches to the Husky vehicle, and has four Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) panels, each costing $40,000. The panels detect metallic and nonmetallic explosive hazards, pressure plates, and antitank mines. These panels were often damaged during training periods. The total system with the four panels initially cost $500,000 per upgrade to the base vehicle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ECBC Military Appreciation Blog Series Part Four: June Sellers

I decided to join the Army because it was the most economical way to go to college away from my hometown. Following in my older brother’s footsteps, I competed for and won an Army ROTC scholarship to pay for tuition and books. The university I attended was only three hours from home, but when you are just coming out of a very small high school it feels like light years. The most challenging part of my decision to sign the ROTC contract at the age of 17 did not actually hit me until a couple of years later. It was then that I fully realized I signed up for years of commitment at a place of the Army’s choosing and that place was likely to be much further than three hours away from family and friends. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ECBC Test, Reliability & Evaluation Branch Demonstrates Expanded Capabilites to PdM-FPS


Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Engineering Test Division and other ECBC branches have demonstrated a close professional working relationship with Joint Program Manager Guardian and Product Manager, Force Protection Systems (PdM-FPS). Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Lackovic and Major Angel Rojas visited the Test, Reliability & Evaluation Branch (TREB) facilities in early March to evaluate the current logistical support for their detection systems. During their tour of the facility, they received an overview of the inventory database recently developed by TREB and were able to walk through the shipping warehouse. The PdM-FPS team provided positive feedback from their visit and expressed their gratitude to the TREB team for providing professional support to the Warfighter’s mission.

TREB currently supports the PM to co-chair the Production, Test and Evaluation Integrated Product Teams for the Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System and Lighting Kit Motion Detector (LKMD). LTC Lackovic expects TREB’s role to increase for LKMD as the system prepares to undergo Production Verification and Product Acceptance Testing for its new production contract in Third Quarter FY12.

Monday, May 21, 2012

ECBC Military Appreciation Blog Series Part Three: Ed Bowen

Edward C. Bowen, Sr. (1920-1996) during World War II

My father, Edward C. Bowen, Sr. (1920-1996), served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was one of the ‘Iron Men of Metz,’ as a member of the 95th Infantry Division.  In 1944, as part of Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, the 95th Division was recognized for fourteen days of continuous attack along a 26-mile front that ended with the capture of the fortress city of Metz, in France, and the destruction of a reinforced German division.  He was also employed at Aberdeen Proving Ground, working at an organization known as Development and Proof Services, a predecessor of the Aberdeen Test Center. Additionally, he served at what is now the U.S. Army Garrison Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), and retired with 40 years of service in 1980. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

ECBC's "Hard to Fit Program” Finds Correct Fitting Mask Solutions for the Warfighter

When it comes to masking and special equipment for the Warfighter, one size does not always fit all. Some servicemen and women need custom tailored clothing and equipment, and not having that equipment can cost opportunities and even jobs. Cindy Learn, an engineer with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Protection Engineering Divison's Joint Service Respirator Sustainment and Test Technology Branch, recalls comforting a distraught servicewoman over the phone when her deployment was in jeopardy because of an ill-fitting mask.

“The standard protective mask did not fit the small frame of her face,” Learn said. “A Warfighter cannot be deployed without a mask that fits properly and securely to the face.”
Thanks to the Hard to Fit program, rejuvenated by Learn and others in her branch, that same servicewoman was able to obtain a protective mask specially adjusted to fit her face just in time for deployment.

“I remember her being so grateful we were able to help her get the right mask,” Learn said. “Many do not realize there are infinite different shapes and sizes of faces, and having a protective mask that fits well is essential to any deployable mission. Not being able to get your hands on the right fitting mask could be a career ender for some.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

ECBC Military Appreciation Blog Part Two: Dr. Sofi Ibrahim

In honor of May Military Appreciation Month, current and former servicemen and women from Edgewood Chemical Biologial Center as well as family members were asked to share their memories. Our second post features Sofi Ibrahim, research microbiologist.
Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be an Army Officer. The opportunity to join the U.S. Army came in 1992 while I was at Johns Hopkins University pursuing post-doctoral research.  While in graduate school, I was fortunate to meet many Army Officers, some of whom were guest lecturers in classes that I took, others were students in classes that I taught, or classmates pursuing their doctoral degree.  They all inspired me, and reinforced my interest in intertwining classroom courses with applied research and real life disciplines – vaccine development, therapeutics, diagnostics and preventive medicine.  So, I was thrilled and honored when one of my friends from graduate school “recruited” me to join the Army.  The only challenge, if any, in taking that decision, was the fact that being in academia for many years, I was not quite sure how to prepare for the rigorous physical training. I was able to adapt within a few weeks of basic training though; in fact I greatly enjoyed it.
One of the most significant events during my service was when my Commander asked me to prepare for deployment to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1994 to serve with a team of Army scientists, engineers and physicians in Operation Vigilant Warrior.  My primary role was to assess molecular diagnostic technology to detect biological threat agents in Theater.  This was a prelude to introducing new diagnostic technology into Theater Army Medical Laboratory and Military Preventive Medicine units.  Under the exemplary leadership of my unit Commander and the support of my team, we successfully demonstrated, for the first time, that Polymerase Chain Reaction detection of infectious disease agents could be performed in Theater.  This assignment has shaped my research and personal experience profoundly.  It materialized in me the premise that a Soldier’s selfless service to God and County is the highest honor.  
From a research perspective, this experience inspired me to seek ways and means to enhance mobility and deplorability of medical diagnostic assets by reducing logistical burden with instrument miniaturization, reagent stabilization and operational simplicity.  Among the most valuable lessons I learned while in service: always be proactive in seeking knowledge and information.
The traits that every serviceman and woman need in order to adapt to military culture and to succeed are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.  These are the precepts of the Army heritage which embody the Army values.

Dr. Sofi Ibrahim was born in Cairo, Egypt where he obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees in Bioscience.  He earned his doctoral and postdoctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University.  He served as active duty Preventive Medicine Officer from 1992-1996 and continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He joined ECBC in 2010 as Research Microbiologist after 17 years service at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD.  He is also adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Arts and Sciences.   

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Military Appreciation Blog Part One: Genna Rowe

In honor of May Military Appreciation Month, current and former servicemen and women from Edgewood Chemical Biologial Center as well as family members were asked to share their memories. Our first post featured Genna Rowe, Operations Research Analyst.

My father served in the Army for 20 years and retired as a Sergeant First Class. He experienced the best and worst aspects of military service during and after Vietnam and uses that experience to help other veterans who have returned from combat. His generation’s credo is: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” His steady commitment to fellow veterans has shown me that every trying experience is not only a trial to be endured, but a chance to turn around and help someone in similar circumstances.
 
My brother enlisted in the Air Force while the Iraq War was in full swing.  Unlike our father, who enlisted at the age of 18 and unattached, my brother was older and already a husband and father when he enlisted.  As a Staff Sergeant stationed in Okinawa, on his fifth rotation in Afghanistan, my brother is in charge of the servicing and maintenance of Search and Rescue helicopters. He has received a commendation from the Army Task Force Commander for his outstanding service. My brother loves his country and even though he wishes he could be with his family, he knows what he does is important.