The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s 2020 Leadership Development Program I group expanded their knowledge base during a team-building trip to the Prototype Integration Facility and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center area of operations Jan. 31, 2020.
The nine-month LDP I course gives Huntsville Center employees between the grades of GS-5 and GS-11 a broad picture of leadership through classroom and online instruction, readings, engagements with leaders throughout Huntsville Center, and, as was the case here, field trips to see how other teams work together.
“Leadership really is about getting out of your comfort zone,” said Christina Freese, Huntsville Center business director. “Sometimes exposure to organizations and locations that have a different purpose than our own stretches our imagination regarding how we do things and what may be possible.”
The Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF, is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which “delivers future readiness as the Army’s premier organization for the modernization cornerstones of science, technology and technology and engineering,” according to information from Army Futures Command, which oversees CCDC.
The PIF team exists to rapidly design, fabricate, install and test systems that fill immediate needs and capability gaps for the warfighter. They accomplish this through integrated product teams who work in four areas: missile systems, aviation systems, special projects, and research and development.
“I found the work at the PIF to be very interesting because, since each project is unique, they have to start by doing in-depth research into the object to be modified and then try different solutions using a variety of materials and methods to find the best solution in a timely manner,” said Maureen Slater, executive secretary at Huntsville Center and an LPD I student. “This is useful to know when collaborating with other agencies, realizing that they have their own unique challenges and constraints but are working toward a common goal.”
At NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the group learned about NASA’s missions, including the forthcoming Artemis moon exploration program and its supporting Space Launch System. MSFC personnel also hosted tours of surrounding test stands, the International Space Station Operations, and the Environmental Control and Life Support System facilities.
“Immersing yourself in an environment is the best way to learn,” Freese said. “Classroom reading and lessons are the starting point, but taking those concepts and seeing them at work really closes the circle of learning. Stronger bonds are also formed in groups when you share experiences together. Effective leaders should be lifelong learners that explore how others do things to seek out lessons that will help them in their current and future roles.”