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Interns gain valuable insight with cross training at OTC

Email   Print   Share By Eloise Lundgren, OTC Public Affairs
November 14, 2013 | News
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Chee-Chong
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Lohkamp
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Amato
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Fudge
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Johnson
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Montgomery
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Courtesy graphic
For nearly 40 years, the U.S. Army Operational Test Command has trained and hired interns from various Army programs, providing the Army’s only independent operational tester a competitive way to sustain and develop their civilian workforce.

Recently, OTC promoted six interns – one in the safety career field and five in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. After one more year of field training, the interns will graduate and be eligible for full-time employment within the Department of Defense, according to Deborah Stimson, OTC human resource specialist.

“The Army Civilian Training, Education and Development System ensures the planned development of civilian members of the workforce through a blending of progressive and sequential work assignments, formal training and self-development as they progress from entry level to key positions,” said Stimson, who manages OTC’s intern programs.

Gayle Shull, director, OTC’s Test Technology Directorate, provides technical and professional

supervision for the STEM interns and Reginald Jones, OTC safety officer, supervises the safety intern – both agree that intern programs are a great way to prepare new hires to operate at full performance level, providing a variety of educational and cross-developmental opportunities.

“I started as a Department of the Army intern 38 years ago when OTC was the U.S. Army Project Mobile Army Sensor Systems Test, Evaluation and Review,” Shull said, “and I recall there was another intern finishing her second year in 1975. I don’t have the exact number of interns we’ve trained here, but I do know all ACTEDS interns have been hired by the Army upon completion of requirements.”

“OTC hasn’t been host to only STEM interns,” Stimson said. “OTC has also trained five Department of the Army public affairs interns who went on to attend the Defense Information school at Fort Meade, Md., before being hired into permanent assignments.”

OTC’s current crop of interns hails from all parts of America and appears to have assimilated seamlessly, not only into OTC but also into the Central Texas area.

Ernesto Chee-Chong has already completed the Joint Safety and Occupational Health Program at the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., graduating at the top of his class. An Army veteran with under-graduate and graduate degrees in business administration, Chee-Chong hopes he’ll be hired into a permanent safety officer position at Fort Hood upon completion of the intern program next year.

“Ernesto’s professional approach to risk mitigation has greatly complimented the command’s mission of safe operational testing,” Jones said.

James Lohkamp, a Kansas State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, found out about Department of Defense STEM recruitment and training programs through a mass engineering department email. OTC selected him out of a pool of candidates, putting him to work in TTD where he has supported instrumentation and Real Time Casualty Assessment data collection for operational tests on Nett Warrior.

Emails seem to be the predominant way to get information on STEM intern opportunities as confirmed by Joe Amato, who works as a computer scientist intern in TTD. The dean of the robotics engineering department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Acton, Mass., suggested Amato apply, which he did and was selected by OTC. Amato, recently named OTC’s employee of the quarter, puts his degree in robotics engineering to good use working on rewriting the Enterprise Data Collection System to make it more user-friendly.

Interested in ultimately finding a position in research and development, Elizabeth Fudge currently works in TTD on software development for EDCS, a web-based manual data collection system. She learned about the intern opportunity through an advertisement in an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers magazine. A graduate of Rice University in Houston, Fudge has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree and intends to pursue a graduate degree in computer science.

University of Arizona graduate Taylor Johnson learned about the intern program through word of mouth on campus. A mathematics major, Johnson hopes to become a fulltime Department of the Army civilian at OTC and work on a graduate degree in mathematics. She currently works as an Operational Research Systems Analyst intern for OTC test directorates.

Benjamin Montgomery, a Baylor University graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering, found out about the intern program through a faculty adviser. He is currently working with modeling and simulation tools in support of Network Integration Evaluation 14.1 underway at Fort Bliss.

“All five interns we gained from a STEM-focused recruiting program are some of the nation’s brightest scholars,” Shull said, “and they’ve made a smooth transition into a productive intern year providing many types of support.”

“Competing against the private sector for civilian talent in complex disciplines like acquisition and research and development is a challenge,” Stimson said. “Intern programs allow us to develop broad gauged, multi-disciplinary civilian executive talent in these career fields and retain them.”
 
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