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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

ECBC’s Detection Engineering Branch Continues Partnership with Japan Ministry of Defense to Improve Chemical Agent Detector

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Detection Engineering Branch (DEB) and the Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD), Technical Research and Development Institute, Advanced Defense Technology Center (TRDI-ADTeC) have continued to partner on a Cooperative Research Project to improve an existing chemical agent detector.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Science of it All: A Conversation with ECBC Military Deputy COL Raymond Compton

In honor of May Military Appreciation Month, ECBC's current Military Deputy, COL Raymond Compton answered six questions about his service, working at ECBC and the economic road ahead.

1. How did you get started with the United States Military?
When I was in college, I knew that I wanted to pursue the military as an officer, so I interviewed for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at my university and received a scholarship for the Army. From there I’ve gone on to pursue a fulfilling and vast career with the United States Army that has taken me everywhere from Uganda to the Czech Republic.

2. How has your prior experience prepared you for your current role as ECBC Military Deputy?

My educational experience and interest has always been in Computer Science, but my role as Director of Military Operations and Acting Director of the Center at the RDECOM Simulation and Training Technology Center prepared me for my current ECBC job.

3. What do you think makes ECBC stand apart from other Army labs or U.S. military organizations?

I actually first heard about ECBC in the early 1990s in a Chemical Officer course, but there was a lot I did not know about ECBC when I first arrived. I had no idea that there were 202 buildings. I did not know the employees went on Temporary Duty Assignments or traveled abroad on a regular basis. It was refreshing to learn about all of the opportunities that ECBC employees take advantage of to maintain a direct link with the Warfighter. The most interesting thing that I was glad to learn about ECBC however, was how involved so many people are within the community. The time and effort put into planning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math presentations at local schools and the amount of people who participate in these activities is impressive. To me, that shows the biggest impact that ECBC can have, because they are not only taking care of the now, they are also helping to spread knowledge for the future.

4. What are the most common military misconceptions you have noticed among civilians?

It is surprising how confusing the promotion and ranking system seems to be to those outside of the military. The ranking system and general military culture are usually the biggest questions I get. My advice for anybody who is interested in learning more about military customs and
procedures would be: 1) do not be afraid to ask questions and 2) take advantage of the information available online to do personal research.

5. How have you seen the work done at ECBC impact servicemen and women abroad and stateside?

I think all of the projects at ECBC directly impact the Warfighter on a daily basis. For starters, every Warfighter needs a  protective mask and that is something tested and created here frequently. Some other specific ECBC projects that benefit the Warfighter include detection of homemade explosives, the smoke and explosives work, as well as some of the chemical demilitarization work done in the Directorate of Program Integration.

6. With the drawdown of the Armed Forces and shifting direction of the military’s focus, how do you see ECBC impacted as an organization? What are your suggestions on how to weather this climate change?

In order to weather this change, people must not be complacent. Usually, it is times like these, when people are placed under fiscal constraints that the best and most innovative ideas emerge. As long as we continue to think creatively and try to find new solutions to problems, I think this draw down will come and go just like any of the others. It reminds me of the broke college student who might only be able to afford Ramen to eat. That student will find ways to make each meal of Ramen different through adding ketchup or cheese, or whatever they have lying around. That same creative innovation can be applied to the work we do here at ECBC: find creative solutions with what you have. You never know what kind of lasting results can come of those moments of inspiration.