Hispanic scientists and engineers around the country came together at the 30th annual Hispanic Engineer National Awards and Achievement Conference, or HENAAC, Oct. 17-21, to recognize their achievements and increase their role in the Science and Technology community. Members of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command attended HENAAC, which was hosted by Great Minds in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), to promote careers in STEM.
At HENAAC, RDECOM announced its first ever design competition for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions. The competition, which focuses on the Army’s Unmanned Aerial Systems fleet, is divided into two parts: phase one is a concept paper, due November 19, on ways to eliminate wiring bundles within the airframe of the Army’s Unmanned Aerial System fleet; winners from phase one will receive a grant award to develop prototypes for a final competition. Cash prizes will be made to final competition winners in the amount of $5,000 first place; $4,000 second place; $3,000 third place and $2,000 fourth place. The final competition will be awarded in late April 2019, at El Paso, Texas.
The competition has a potential participation base of more than 1,700 eligible institutions.
“We also want to announce the opportunity for internships stemming from this competition across RDECOM’s many technical domain areas and across our wide geographic footprint,” said Mike Monteleone, director of the Communications-Electronics Center, who made the announcement on behalf of RDECOM.
More than 3,000 college students, undergraduates, postdoctorals and executives from the Hispanic community attended HENAAC, along with industry professionals, private sector corporations, academic institutions and representatives from RDECOM’s six centers and labs. The event supports the second line of effort in RDECOM’s Campaign Plan — to recruit, train and maintain a diverse and highly skilled workforce of scientists, engineers and supporting staff, and the fourth line of effort — to create awareness and communicate information about the command.
On Saturday, students attended an all-day career and graduate school fair. The RDECOM exhibit booth featured an overhead spinning circular banner, a central reception desk and a kiosk for each center and lab. Students who were interested in a civilian career used iPads with new software, the Yello App, to register, then were directed to a representative from RDECOM who conducted interviews with the prospective candidates, according to their academic interest. The Yello App is a central repository that stores student information such as academic institute, graduation year, area(s) of interest and resumes. The Yello App can also be used to schedule interviews and send letters of intent.
“Using the Yello App was a tremendous improvement to the recruitment efforts in the RDECOM booth this year. By the time the applicant was finished filling out the profile, the hiring managers already had the resume and profile in their hand, on their iPad screen. The overall process alleviated chaos for the candidates and presented a clean and streamlined process for getting candidates linked with the appropriate hiring managers,” said Nicole McKew, RDECOM human capital outreach specialist.
By the end of the four days, RDECOM collected 240 resumes, conducted 100 interviews and extended 53 job offers or interest letters to potential hires.
One of the main events at HENAAC was the College Bowl, which was hosted by various corporate sponsors. The two-day event was coached and judged by industry and government representatives, and each round of competition focused on topics relevant to career success. The RDECOM team consisted of 12 students who competed against 23 other teams. RDECOM’s team was led by Erica Bertoli, RDECOM Communications-Electronics Center and assisted by Carelyn Martinez, RDECOM Armaments Center, and Kathryn Loller, RDECOM.
“This is my fifth year with the College Bowl and the one thing that amazes me every year — and this year is no exception — is the students’ energy,” Bertoli said.
The theme of this year’s College Bowl, which included five rounds of competition, was the Rain Forest. The RDECOM team mentors worked with the students on their resumes during the first competition. For the second competition, the students were required to build something that was ecologically friendly; the RDECOM team built a model of a bio-fuel habitat that explorers could use in the Rain Forest. During the third competition, the students were required to create a threat from outer space.
“Our students decided that there was a group of space aliens who wanted to steal everything in the bio-fuel habitat that they built. However, instead of fighting the aliens, the students taught them different areas of STEM, and they found harmony,” Bertoli said.
The RDECOM team won the resume competition and the final competition, a STEM knowledge competition quiz show.
“The young people who come to the College Bowl really exemplify the esprit de corps that we look for as one mission, one fight to support the Army,” Bertoli said.
First, second and third place teams were announced at the 3oth Anniversary Awards Show/College Bowl Awards on Saturday evening. Scholarships were given to students on each team, with first place at $500, second at $300 and third at $200.
Other highlights from HENAAC included an Early Career Faculty Symposium, which was attended predominately by doctoral candidates, and a seminar on Intrinsic Motivation given by Monteleone. Monteleone spoke about the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and the importance of self-reflection.
“I’m motivated by my service and duty to the country because I see how I make a difference,” Monteleone said.