National Security Scholars Experience the Technological Side of Defense at NVESD
FORT BELVOIR, VA – US Army RDECOM CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD)
The National Security Scholars from the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF), eager to continue their exploration of American diplomacy, national security, intelligence, and defense, arrived at Gelini Gate in their finest business attire on a bus from Washington, D.C., poised for an introduction to the defense technology developed at the US Army RDECOM CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD). The week-long program affords exceptional high school students the opportunity to experience challenging careers in government service through speakers, seminars, and site explorations, such as the visit conducted at NVESD on October 13th.
Since the program's founding in 1992, over 100,000 students have participated in NYLF and NVESD has opened its gates to many of these future leaders spanning the past three decades. The students were nominated by educators or identified through classroom surveys as talented individuals with strong scholastic skills and an interest in pursuing future careers in diplomacy or defense; many students also displayed a passion for science as they experienced firsthand the realities of Army research and development throughout the day's demonstrations.
The students appreciated the real-life experience of undergoing the security check even before the visit began. One scholar remarked, "It's exciting to go somewhere where we actually have our IDs checked and have to wear badges." A few students reflected on the group's previous visit to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C and the imperative for security measures when working in a sensitive field such as defense.
The NYLF scholars listened to NVESD Overview Briefing provided by Ms. Kim Bell, of the Operations Division. The students asked about specific technical aspects, such as the angles of night vision in closed hatch operations. Others were surprised to learn about the vast array of technologies that NVESD develops in addition to night vision goggles.
Mr. Ken Cook and Mr. Jim Thomas, both of the Modeling and Simulation Division, introduced the high school students to Recognition of Combatant Vehicles and IED (ROC-V and ROC-IED). The students discovered how these training programs prepare Soldiers to differentiate between various vehicles and weapons and reduce rates of fratricide and civilian casualties; the students also personally encountered the difficulties Soldiers face when identifying possible threats through ROC-V and ROC-IED when answering a few sample tests. Cook emphasized to the future leaders that the focus of defense technologies such as ROC-V and ROC-IED is to save lives – of both civilians and Soldiers – and to make better Soldiers in addition to better devices.
En route to the Mine Lanes for the day's final adventure at NVESD, one student, in anticipation, attempted to predict the course of the proceeding demonstration: "Are we going to see live ordnances?" Mr. John Fasulo, of the Countermine Division, and Mr. James Habersat, of the Science and Technology Division, demonstrated countermine technology to the National Security Scholars and offered them the chance to view in person various forms of anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The NYLF visit to NVESD encouraged students to pursue the opportunities that combine their passion for diplomacy and defense with their interests and abilities in science and technology. Through the site visit, these future leaders obtained a newfound appreciation of the work Soldiers carry out and the demands that researchers supporting the Army must meet; to protect American forces and innocent civilians, both Soldiers and scientists must constantly adapt to changing technology. For these students, their visit to NVESD illuminated realities of defense work that had previously remained in the shadows.