From the U.S. Edgewood Chemical Biological Center:
ECBC engineer uses pyrotechnics to show Havre de Grace middle school students how to turn a fun and exciting hobby into a rewarding STEM profession
Chief of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC)’s Pyrotechnics and Explosives Branch Joseph Domanico introduced 50 seventh-graders at Havre de Grace Middle School to the world of pyrotechnics and held an educational briefing about his field of specialization within the Center’s Engineering Directorate on Sept. 17.
Invited to speak as a guest lecturer during their intervention and enrichment period that enables students to explore the wide range of engineering and development opportunities throughout everyday life, Domanico addressed the win-win situation of pursuing a career path in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“One of the benefits of being an engineer is that you’re always doing something different and you never get bored,” he said when describing the rewarding nature of working in the engineering field and being able to serve his country at the same time. “I even get to blow things up to deliver high quality products for the Army.”
While sharing the excitement of engineering with the nation’s potential future STEM workforce, Domanico focused on the importance of strong chemical, mathematical and engineering skills to effectively perform the daily responsibilities on projects for government and civilian organizations.
“You need the chemistry, the math and the science to conduct successful experiments,” he explained.
Supporting the dominance of the U.S. Army by empowering its warfighters, he develops and tests different types of smoke, flame and explosives technologies at ECBC, also known as the nation’s premier resource for chemical and biological defense solutions.
Adapting to the battlefield scenario of 2020, innovative solutions include the reformulation of smoke obscurants to enhance signaling and screening techniques with brighter colors and high density white smokes, while maintaining low toxicity levels for the soldiers’ long-term safety.
“With the goal to protect and unburden the warfighter, I use my chemistry knowledge to create multi-colored smoke grenades, whereas math and engineering helps me figure out how to build and launch projectiles according to the warfighters’ needs in the battlefield,” he continued.
When giving a snapshot of the professions represented on the Center’s pyrotechnics team, he highlighted the relevance of functional areas such as mechanical and electrical engineering to ensure the safe delivery of mission-critical solutions to the soldier.
To inspire students with engineering processes, Domanico displayed prototype models of pyrotechnic-related items and included animated videos of pyrotechnics shows in concert with popular music soundtracks that he had designed and built with the “Crackerjacks”, a local fireworks club of electrical and mechanical engineers.
“Being an engineer is more than just a job,” Domanico said. “You can take your knowledge to the playground and have lots of fun.”
Donna Hott, life sciences teacher at Havre de Grace Middle School, applauded Domanico’s educational outreach engagement that was supported by the National Defense Education Program and expressed her appreciation for enriching her science class with the insight of his subject matter expertise.
“His presentation was fascinating,” she said. “The students were entertained and learned how various types of engineers are needed to support the pyrotechnics field.”
For more information about ECBC and its community and educational outreach programs, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/.