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WSMR Commander presents STEM opportunities
Miriam Rodriguez
May 05, 2021

White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. David Trybula was the guest speaker at a U.S. Army virtual outreach STEM discussion April 29, which focused on STEM opportunities the Army has to offer service members and civilians.

The audience included educators, counselors, principals, and administrators from the local community in El Paso, Texas. The purpose of the presentation was to better educate staff on possible options for students as they look to career fields and promote the Army as a possibility given the various STEM opportunities.

Cpt. Teodoro Alvarez, Commander of the El Paso U.S. Army Recruiting Company, who organized the event, thanked Trybula and guests for attending.

Trybula touched on five points during his presentation to local area educators where he spoke about STEM opportunities available throughout the U.S .Army Test and Evaluation Command so that they in turn can educate students searching for possible career fields.

Trybula started the presentation with a video about WSMR capabilities. "The focus on what we do at ATEC and at WSMR is captured in the video," Trybula said. "We are testing the future and changing the world."

"I work for the U.S .Army Test and Evaluation Command," Trybula said. "What ATEC does for the Army is test anything that a Soldier is going to touch or use, as well as supporting the other services in testing their equipment. That involves essentially every discipline known to man and especially relies heavily on engineering, science and mathematics, all the STEM fields."

"We have diverse opportunities geographically and then across the sciences," Trybula said. "What we try to do across all of ATEC is find those opportunities where we can develop and reinforce STEM for the next generation, so we can grow that workforce."

Trybula then went over the five STEM related programs which exist across ATEC and at WSMR.

Trybula said WSMR participates in The Army Educational Outreach Program, which ATEC and WSMR have participated in since 2015.

The highlight of that is the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science (GEMS), which is focused on middle school and high school students.

The mission is to interest young people, who might not otherwise give serious thought to becoming scientists or engineers, in STEM careers early enough that they have the time to attain the appropriate academic training.

The program is based on a multi-disciplinary educational curriculum, and focused on age and grade-appropriate hands-on activities, in areas such as science, engineering, mathematics, computational sciences, computational biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry and biology.

"We bring them in for a week during the summer and expose middle school and high school students to the application of STEM," Trybula said. Students get to do hands on applications and see what goes on in terms of preparing for a test. They get to spend a full week of interaction with practitioners who have taken STEM to the workplace on a daily basis.

The next session is scheduled for June 21-24 and July 12-15. For enrollment information go to

Also in this area is the eCYBERMISSION and National Judging & Education Event (NJEE) for 6th to 9th graders. This is something that ATEC has supported for the last seven years.

It is a web-based STEM competition for students in grades six through nine that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of STEM. Teams of three or four students are instructed to ask questions (for science) to define problems and then construct explanations or design solutions based on identified problems in their community. Students compete for State, Regional, and National Awards

The second program Trybula talked about is the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program.

It aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working within the Department of Defense.

The program targets full-time college undergraduate and graduate students pursuing technical degrees in STEM disciplines.  Students receive a scholarship that includes full tuition and a monthly stipend.

Students must be enrolled in full-time, regionally accredited U.S. college/university, leading to a degree. Students gain understanding in analysis, research, report writing, oral briefings, policy development, program management, and computer applications, culminating with an opportunity for a career in DoD upon graduation.

Although current high school students are not eligible to apply, Trybula said now is the time to start planning for the future and understand viable programs. 

The third program Trybula talked about is the Department of Defense (DoD) College Acquisition Internship Program (DCAIP).

The program supports National Defense Strategy, DoD Human Capital Operating Plan, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD A&S) strategic goals to cultivate workforce talent in STEM. It targets full-time college sophomores/juniors and provides a paid structured program that includes summer and winter internships.

Students gain meaningful experiences including mentoring and coaching and will gain understanding in analysis, research, report writing, oral briefings, policy development, program management, and computer applications, culminating with an opportunity for a career in DoD upon graduation.

The fourth program Trybula talked about is WSMR Recruitment and Outreach.

He said WSMR hosts on-site WSMR Days throughout the year to increase awareness and the many STEM related employment opportunities. Some of the highlights include WSMR mission, organization, and Team WSMR – who we are/what we do.

Also highlighted are job opportunities, federal careers, how to apply and provides opportunities to meet Human Resources and STEM personnel and ask questions.

WSMR also participates in spring and fall Career Fairs for undergraduate and graduate students at University of Texas at El Paso to build and develop a diverse pool of STEM professionals with the necessary technical, professional and interpersonal skills required to pursue successful careers in DoD.

He said ATEC collaborates with many colleges and universities careers centers and engages in career fairs.

"Finally and most fitting for our folks in high schools, middle schools and elementary schools is the WSMR museum is building a STEM education center, which is scheduled to open in June 2022," Trybula said.

This will have classroom space with computer work stations. There will be gaming computers with rocket building games to allow students to explore concepts such as thrust, combustion, stabilization, center of gravity and other concepts that are important to understand for the design and building of rockets. Students will be able to build 3D models of rockets including those that have been tested at WSMR. In addition students will have access to robotics and electrical circuit building kits to engage students to work in teams for creative thinking and to develop innovative solutions and building a product to meet a specific goal.

"We have many different things to be able to engage and support both your activities promoting STEM in the classroom as well as field trips to WSMR, and then scholarships and other efforts moving forward," Trybula said.

In response to a question about opportunities for technical careers and technical degrees, Trybula said the breadth of careers across ATEC is extraordinarily expansive and includes everyone from jobs with a high school diploma, associate degrees, bachelors, masters and PhD, as well as professional certifications.

"We actually have many folks who are at the very edge of expanding the technical horizons based on what we need to do to be able to test safely."