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Young Professionals Forging DEVCOM Future
by U.S. Army Amy Tolson, AvMC
May 3, 2022

The working relationships established today have the potential to impact how the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command delivers capabilities to the Warfighter tomorrow.

Members of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Young Professionals group welcomed their counterparts from the DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s Young Professionals group to Huntsville in March 2022.

Members of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Young Professionals group welcome their counterparts from the DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s Young Professionals group to Huntsville on March 25, 2022. (Photo by Amy Tolson, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center)
Members of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Young Professionals group welcome their counterparts from the DEVCOM Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s Young Professionals group to Huntsville on March 25, 2022. (Photo by Amy Tolson, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center)

The visit was an opportunity for the Michigan-based civil servants to learn more about AvMC’s core capabilities and competencies, while building relationships with fellow members of DEVCOM. The engagement included an office call with AvMC Director Jeff Langhout, lab tours, social events, and even a ride in a Black Hawk.

“They got a good feel of what we do here at AvMC with all the tours and discussions we had. Outside of work, it was getting to know more about where they came from, their schooling and how their experience has been different from ours,” said Ashwin Parwani, executive officer to the director of AvMC’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration directorate.

The engagement may have lasted only a few days, but the impact of those new professional relationships will last for years to come.

“Our working and social relationships formed so quickly and naturally after only three days together,” said Carlee Meyers, a GVSC mechanical engineer who led the 10-person GVSC Young Professional delegation to AvMC. “Before we even left Huntsville, we began brainstorming ideas for when the AvMC Young Professionals make the trip up to GVSC this summer. I’m looking forward to years from now when many of us are leaders across DEVCOM together.”

AvMC young professionals agreed.

“Getting to work together and getting to see what all the other centers do helped me see people may have different answers to parts of the problem,” Parwani said. “If we’re all focusing on one issue, they may know things that we don’t, and we may know things that they don’t, to where you can put pieces of the puzzle together. It’s important if you have a question or are stuck on a problem, to be able to just pick up the phone and ask someone over at a different center, where it may be their specialty.”

“If this is established at this age when you’re just getting into the Army, imagine 10 years from now when we’re all established in our careers, how strong across the board DEVCOM will be,” added Stacy Dowling, executive officer to the AvMC director.

The Young Professional group at GVSC originated in 2017 when three recent college graduates ... Eric Hecht, Shruti Jha and Celia Staniak ... were looking for a community of others like themselves at their new organization. They held monthly meetings with leadership to provide a space for recent graduates to connect with each other and talk to those with more experienced GVSC associates.

Soon after, Meyers, along with her newly hired colleagues Megan Black and Walker Brand, also engineers, became involved in the YP group. They have become GVSC’s current trio of YP leaders and have monthly meetings with GVSC Director Michael Cadieux, a huge advocate of the YP program. They provide him with honest organizational feedback from the perspective of motivated, driven, working-level engineers.

Currently, the three are focused heavily on recruiting more YPs at GVSC, as well as assisting all eight of the DEVCOM centers in setting up their own YP groups, a situation which is intended to lead to increased collaboration among all DEVCOM YPs.

Seeing tremendous value in the young professionals group during his tenure as director at GVSC, when Langhout arrived in Huntsville in 2021, one of his first orders of business was to task Dowling with starting one at AvMC.

“Especially when you first start, everyone tends to get into their own foxhole and has a hard time seeing the broader picture – it can be very overwhelming,” Dowling said. “This is a way for them to see what is going on at other directorates, to understand a broader sense of what we do. They’re getting plugged in at work, but they’re figuring out their professional network as well.”

What began as Dowling reaching out to a few young people within AvMC has grown to a group of more than 100. The group typically hosts three events a month – one professional in-person event, such as a lab tour or engagement with a senior leader; one virtual event, such as a webinar about Thrift Savings Plan best practices; and one social event, like a trivia night.

“I love the ability to meet other individuals that are newer to the organization in our age group and see what they work on,” Parwani said. “One thing I’m a huge advocate of is visibility within the organization. This allows everyone to see what everyone works on and learn about different opportunities within the organization. The Young Professionals group establishes a good sense of community and visibility.”

With the GVSC visit, that community and visibility expanded even further for members of both groups. Members of the AvMC YP group are planning to make a similar trip to GVSC in Michigan.

“Since I have joined the workforce, I have been learning more that pretty much anything you do in life that involves other people starts off with building foundational relationships,” said Haley Patterson, a general engineer with the AvMC Manufacturing Science and Technology Division. “I know that these relationships I have built within the smaller community of AvMC Young Professionals and other Young Professional groups like the GVSC folks will carry on as work relationships as well as friendships throughout my career.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC), headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.

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