R&D in the Army

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by atreen, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. atreen

    atreen Member

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    Are there opportunities for Army officers to get involved in R&D or at least manage a R&D facility? I am interested in USARIEM and the Natick Soldier Systems centers.

    Does the Army try to make use of junior officers' (LT-CPT) degrees? For example, if someone has a degree in exercise physiology and wants to improve soldier survivability, will the Army take that into consideration when assigning duties? Or if someone is studying a critical language and studying polysci, will the Army make an effort to put that officer in a specific branch that uses their skills?
     
  2. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Yes, but probably about 8+ years after doing normal soldier/leader stuff an officer get into R&D arena or using individual skills.

    The Army uses 2LTs to junior CPTs to lead soldiers in typical Army units, not to do research or use their college degrees.

    A way to look at is for most junior officers position, the required skills sets are what Army teaches you, not what you learned in college.

    Say a 2LT is fluent German a speaker. Two ways can use his language skill, translating or officially interacting with German government officials. As for translating, civilian or enlisted linguists are cheaper than a 2LT. An average 2LT lacks experience and rank to effectively interact with German government officials. Area we going to send a 2LT to a meeting discussing upcoming joint deployment to Kosovo?
     
  3. atreen

    atreen Member

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    So what is the real point of recruiting certain majors such as STEM if they are not really utilizing their specialized skills?
     
  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    What makes you think Army recruits STEM majors?

    West Point cadets are freed to pick whatever major they want.

    I don't think declared major plays a factor in ROTC scholarship award.

    Undergraduate majors have some influence in branching decisions, but they are already committed in the Army.

    I also don't think that someone with a bachelor degree is an expert in any field.

    The Army typically sends officers to grad school before they send them to R&D assignments.

    If you desire is it to do R&D right after college, getting commissioned is not the way to go.
     
  5. BAMA ROTC

    BAMA ROTC Member

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    The Army is most certainly recruiting STEM students and I can say that the campus-based offers do take the major into account.
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Those majors are in line with high-level problem solving and team collaboration. The Army's mission is the Prevent, Shape, and Win. To that end, the Army wants intelligent problem solvers who are used to dismantling large problems and tackling them in a collaborative fashion. Furthermore, those majors provide the basis for future education which can lead to R&D jobs.
     
  7. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Sure, but goes back to my point, to be 2LTs, not to perform R&D
     
  8. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Welcome to the Army. Lots of folks planning stuff at the top that doesn't happen in the reality of the field.

    Not sure I would agree with the assessment that STEM majors have a monopoly on high-level problem solving or team collaboration. And to insinuate that non-STEM majors are not intelligent problem solvers used to dismantiling large problems and tackling them in a collaborative fashion is rather insulting to other academic disciplines.

    Though you could slip a fast one past those folks with other degrees didn't you? We're not that slow. :yllol:
     
  9. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    I don't really care either way. I'm telling you the Army's take on it. They want engineers and design-thinkers with ingrained "hard" analytical skills and a methodical approach. You can take it or leave it, but the Army is taking it.
     
  10. BAMA ROTC

    BAMA ROTC Member

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    You are 100% accurate.
     
  11. BAMA ROTC

    BAMA ROTC Member

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    Sir,
    My comments were very limited in nature on purpose. I am here as a service to people seeking information from a ROTC recruiter. I will not speculate and I apologize if it appears I have done so.
     
  12. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    No need to apologize. From an old grad/senior officer perspective, I tend to ask too many so what questions.

    I got it as to for various reasons Army wants more 2LTs that are STEM majors. My personal opinion is that one of reasons is not to put 2LT into R&D positions or to ensure that Army has enough CPT/MAJs that are STEM majors that can be assigned to R&D positions.
     
  13. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Then they had better only take cadets from the upper half of top rated universities (regardless of major). I've come across degreed engineers who can't change their own motor oil.

    If you haven't read, China actually graduates more engineers than we do. Which country has better critical thinking amongst their graduates?

    Of course, someone up the food chain uses an arbitrary measurement of critical thinking. They will get what they ask for.

    Quite frankly, if the cadre at some schools can't figure out which of their cadets can't plan their way out of a paper bag and weed them out (not casting aspersions at Bama, but I've heard stories of the lesser cadets sent to LDAC from other lesser universities and SMCs), they have a bigger problem.

    So now the Army uses major as a proxy for analytical thinking training. About par for the course. Let's follow the latest fad.

    Yes, the army needs people who understand the physics of flying a helicopter, but there are a lot of other parts to the goals of prevent, shape, and win that don't deal with STEM majors and require complex thinking that isn't in that coursework.

    My advice to prospective cadets - don't choose a STEM major because the cadre says it will get you a scholarship. If you love working on those kinds of tasks by all means go for it. However, if it doesn't excite you, you will not excel in the discipline, nor will you do well against your peers who love this work.
     
  14. atreen

    atreen Member

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    Thanks for the insights.

    Will pursuing a graduate degree in a particular technical field after commissioning help with enhancing chances to get into that area? I.e. Will a Masters or PhD in Engineering help get positions in the army research labs? Rather than stay a generalist officer.
     
  15. BlindROTC

    BlindROTC Member

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    Graduate Degrees

    Yes, as a general rule with few exceptions, you will need a graduate degree in order to have any meaningful involvement with R&D. The type and the timing depend on what you really want to do. If you want to be designing and researching, then your graduate degree should be in a STEM field and you might very well end up on the civilian side of a government or contractor's lab. There seems to be a consensus that junior officers won't be designing and researching, so, if you plan that kind of transition, you might also plan to get your first graduate degree while in the service or shortly afterwards. That would effectively mask your lack of R&D experience during your first years as a commissioned officer.

    On the other hand, you might prefer to plan and manage R&D. In that case, your leadership development as an officer is directly applicable and your graduate degree options are much broader. There is a counterpart on the civilian side; plenty of newly-minted engineers hope to get into management, sales, or something else after a few years. They need to demonstrate or pick up those skills on the job, whereas a commissioned officer would have a head start.
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Haha, I know a number of STEM folks who have very different feels about collaboration.... not at CGA though.

    I do wonder if the hype of STEM pans out in reality. If you put a dumb person in a STEM major, are they more prepared than a smart person in a non-STEM major? My opinion, no. Some people are drawn to sciences, some to social sciences, but at the end of the day, the I.Q. was there before anyone in West Point admissions reviewed the file.
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The Army is taking it, and then spending billions for the design-thinker with ingrained "hard" analytical skills and a methodical approach, from a defense contractor.... while those same soldiers are trying to figure out how to transition to a new private sector.
     
  18. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    A better route is to pick a career path that will get you graduate school and into R&D arena.

    First, you might find it challenging to purse a technical graduate degree while you are serving. The Army's OPTEMPO is slowing down but it won't easy for you to be a junior officer and work on a graduate degree.

    Around 6th or 7th year of service, you get to request which career path you want to pick. Accordingly if your career path requires it, the Army will send you to a graduate school. Commissioned officers mostly manage R&D, very few actually do R&D.
     

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