From the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center:
After completing a successful six-week mentorship program with Edgewood Middle School’s (EMS) A.M. Academic Club, volunteers from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) invited their mentees to experience life as an employee at the nation’s premier resource for chemical and biological defense during a visit to the Center on May 25.
Collaborating with EMS Counselor Peg Taibi and Project DREAM Works Program Director Mindy Costanzo-Romero, Mary Doak, the Center’s community and educational outreach manager, accompanied students on a tour of the Center’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing and the Protection Factor Test (PFT) Facilities.
“Touring ECBC was not only enlightening, but also very exciting for our students,” Taibi said. “Working in a team with Ms. Doak and Ms. Constanzo-Romero ? as a tripod ? makes exceptional educational events like these possible.”
Guiding the group across the Edgewood campus, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Historian Jeff Smart pointed out Base Realignment and Closure-related construction projects and highlighted the upcoming surge of jobs into the area.
“Aberdeen and Edgewood are constantly looking for talented and skilled individuals like you,” Engineering Technician Leroy Stitz told the students. “So, your hard work will eventually pay off and you will reap your harvest.”
Stitz and ECBC Protection Factor Test Lead Steve Yurechko displayed and explained the various types of gas masks for the warfighter including the newest Joint Services General Purpose Mask that resembles the helmet worn by Darth Vader.
“With the most recent gas mask models, soldiers could stay in a contaminated environment indefinitely,” Stitz said.
Keeping the group of students on their toes, the PFT team measured their facial sizes ? as they usually do with soldiers before testing masks ? and invited them to enter the test chamber for the real experience.
Playing through the mask testing procedure, Stitz and Yurechko showed how they simulate the exposure to chemical agents and detect mask failures. Up to 16 volunteer soldiers wearing masks connected to monitoring equipment enter the chamber filled with corn oil aerosol. While putting them through a series of exercises, the PFT team monitors the concentration of aerosol in the masks through a real-time graph on a computer screen. Enthusiastic about the facility’s equipment, EMS students asked many questions, closely observed the mask testing process and role-played in the chamber.
Before leaving the Center’s grounds, EMS participants thanked ECBC mentors for their time and guidance over the past six weeks and said they were sorry the mentoring period was over so soon. However, three ECBC members committed to continue sessions with their mentees over the summer months.
EMS student Zavier Myles announced that his mentor helped him improve his math grade from a C to an A. “Sometimes we got off track, but we always went straight back to work,” he said, describing the nature of his mentoring sessions.
Another student, Jordan Glassman, described her mentor as an amazing individual who always kept a smile, listened and helped her understand variables.
“ECBC mentors were always on time, patient, committed and dedicated,” Taibi added. “This experience has been great for the kids.”
Doak also thanked all event participants for contributing to a successful finale of the mentorship program.
“Leroy (Stitz) and Steven (Yurechko) are our shining stars today,” Doak said. “And, it’s the mentors, mentees and so many other participants that define an educational outreach program. Without you, we couldn’t have accomplished what we have.”
ECBC mentors included Stacey Broomall, Sandy Cormack, Jennifer Exelby, Jadey Pareja, Thu-An Kecskes, Erin Maloney, Valerie McCarty, Andrew Murphy, Steve Norman, Julius Owens, Aileen Richards, Martha Weeks and Candace Williams.
For more information about ECBC, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/.