YPG provides college students the opportunity to experience real-world testing


YUMA — U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground strives to educate the community about its test mission ,and one method of doing that is reaching out to students of all ages.
Each summer a handful of college students and recent graduates spend their summer interning at the proving ground. This summer students received hands-on real-world experience supervised by mentors in the Instrumentation Division (ID), Sensors Branch, Air Delivery Systems Branch, Combat and Automotive System Division, Technology and Investments Directorate, and Munitions and Weapons Division.
While all the student interns are majoring in engineering, they have different areas of focus. Austin Arroyo is attending Arizona State University (ASU) and is majoring in computer systems engineering.
“I have always loved working with computers and technology growing up, so it was a passion that I was able to seamlessly find my major in,” he said.
Arroyo was placed in the Instrumentation Division and mentored by Jose Rodriguez.
“In ID We are always looking to develop and enhance different capabilities. We were working on a project to start tracking different metrics for a project. We wanted to tweak a current form that existed in Sharepoint.”
That’s where Arroyo put his coding skills to use. Rodriguez had a colleague create a digital sandbox so Arroyo could work yet not break the current live system. In addition to technical skills, Arroyo worked on his interpersonal skills communicating with his colleagues to understand their needs.
“Sometimes you just want to work on what you are being tasked to do but it’s part of a bigger picture so you are working with a customer that will be operating the tool you are developing so you need to work on those people skills,” explained Rodriguez.
Richard Santiago who is also attending ASU is following his brother’s footsteps studying engineering. He is majoring in civil engineering and interned within the Combat and Automotive System Division. He learned that at YPG, engineering is only one aspect of the job.
“The test officers here manage different people, money, and the projects so I have been learning about project management.”
Dorian Noriega, who is entering his freshmen year at the University of Arizona (UofA), was impressed with the amount of people involved in a test effort.
“It’s not just shooting, it’s so much more like data collecting, cameras, gunners. It’s a lot of team effort.”
Jay Clark’s internship is a bit different: he’s imbedded for the next four years working full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. He’s majoring in engineering management at UofA-Yuma.
“When I start my classes, I will have actual live experience to start seeing exactly what I should be looking for from my teachers, then talk to my teachers and get the information to apply here. I am excited to work those two together.”
Mentors and the organization also benefit from this partnership. Rodriguez is experienced in the mentor role and looks to have a “win-win” experience for the mentor and mentee.
“I want to provide the mentee an opportunity to learn, to be exposed to what we do at YPG and to contribute. That’s a win for the mentee. For the mentor I always like to gain something from the experience. I always try to think of tasks and challenges that we have that can be scoped to the time a mentee has on the range.”
The wide range of exposure to the developmental testing at YPG has left an impression on the interns and helped solidify their career roadmap. ASU junior Gabriel Sepulveda is majoring in mechanical engineering, and said, “Before this internship I didn’t know what I wanted to do, now I want to get into defense.”