By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command
WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — A new building serving as a technology collaboration hub opened here Wednesday, along with an announcement of a cyber education plan among Fort Hood’s academic, community, and industry partners.
The Army Test and Evaluation Command’s Technology Integration Center (ATIC) was dedicated to the memory of Arthur “Art” Roy Woods III, an equipment testing Hall of Famer who was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers.
“The ATIC opens as the Army undertakes major reforms to its acquisition processes and organizations,” said Mr. John W. Diem, Executive Director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command.
“These partnerships will be essential as we seek better ways to respond to the Army’s call for increased readiness and more rapid modernization.”
He said Army and the community’s surrounding academic entities will prepare today’s young people with training and education tools so the Army can combat future threats through OTC’s operational testing mission.
“OTC must depend even more on our community and our academic partners to provide the training needed to keep today’s workforce relevant and prepared for the future,” said Diem.
“I want to give a special shout out to the many members of the Art Woods fan club that are here,” he said. “This facility honors a great tester that I got to work for and I hope maybe emulated a little bit in my career — Art Woods.”
Woods’ son Walter Johnson spoke to help memorialize his father’s legacy.
Speaking off the cuff, he told the crowd of nearly 175 that he merely wanted to say “Thanks.”
Johnson spoke of how his father brought him to Central Texas when he was in the fifth-grade.
“It sounds like this morning some of you might remember my father — you might have been here when he worked here,” he said.
“He was always battling chronic back pain. I used to always tell him, ‘Dad, it’s time. It is time for you to retire, get off your feet, get in the hot tub with a stiff drink, watch some Washington Redskins football, and it’s time for you to retire,’” Johnson continued.
“But I could never get him to do it. He would not do it. And he wouldn’t do it because he loved his job so much, and he loved his West Fort Hood family so much. And on a day like today, and a gesture like this, it’s easy to see why he felt that way.”
OTC’s commander said he was excited about the “Cyber Information Sharing Pledge” charter signing between OTC, Killeen Independent School District, Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas and the announcement of a TAMU-CT Research Park.
“This pledge will lay a critical foundation of trust, partnership and commitment that will be central as we chart the future collaborative endeavors,” said Col Ronald R. Ragin.
“I’m excited about the potential the future holds,” he said.
“What starts here changes the world,” he continued. “What starts here today truly has the potential to give our Army an edge in the future battlefield.”
He said the new ATIC technology laboratory is all about triumph.
“What starts here today is all about giving our Soldiers the most survivable, reliable and lethal equipment on the battlefield,” Ragin said. “It’s about winning overwhelmingly, every time, against any adversary, anywhere, any place at any time.”
Ragin said the ATIC facility will give the Soldiers the edge by connecting test technology developers and users worldwide with other engineers, analysts and technicians with academia while supporting efforts of Army Futures Command.
Inside the new building, technology demonstrations by Electronic Proving Ground, Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Redstone Test Center, Huntsville, Alabama; Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen, Maryland; and Project Manager Instrumentation, Targets and Threat Simulators, and SOF Training Systems, Orlando, Florida each presented static displays.
Ground breaking ceremonies shifted to announcing OTC’s partnerships in the academic community, where area educators shared their thoughts on the concept of building a research park on the TAMU-CT campus.
“There has always been that relationship with Fort Hood as part of our history,” said Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, TAMU-CT’s president. “This concept of Research Park has really come into being in large part because of this relationship with Operational Test Command, and the opportunities we have seen through their eyes of relationships that can be established through the university system.”
He said the relationship creates the opportunity for the kind of research and industrial activity to take place in the Central Texas region.
John Crutchield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, described his organization’s mission to convene meetings with all players.
“When you’ve got an economic engine like Fort Hood in your community, it’s hard to diversify, so what you do is you use Fort Hood to diversify,” he said.
When speaking of TAMU-CT’s partnership with OTC, he said, “We want it to be more than an educational institution. We want it to be the second largest economic development driver in the region, second only to Fort Hood. And the research park is one way to get there.”
Killeen ISD Superintendent Dr. John Craft said KISD serves about 46,000 students while employing 7,000 in Central Texas.
“We are providing tremendous opportunities for our students,” he said. “We recently just expanded our science, technology, engineering and mathematics program which we have right now over 12 hundred high school students engaged in a dual credit opportunity pathway with about 16 different tracts for students.”
Craft said his students can obtain anywhere from 30 to 60 hours of college credit prior to graduation, which readies them to move on to higher education, and even the military.
Starting at high school, the pledge provides for educated youngsters to enter higher learning and eventually contribute to their communities.
Central Texas College Chancellor Jim Yeonopolus echoed the need for the community partnership with OTC and said, “To serve this community, Fort Hood is one of our biggest partners. We wouldn’t be doing this without Fort Hood. We wouldn’t be here without Fort Hood.”
Diem followed OTC’s new teammates saying how important the relationship of the schools and OTC is about to become.
“We’re getting ready to sign a charter that says we’re going to be very deliberate going forward to work, to develop the workforce and the next workforce, and the workforce after that,” he said.