ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. – Department of Defense and contractor employees work together day in, day out at Arnold Air Force Base to fulfill the mission of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), headquartered at Arnold AFB. This year, that cooperation was extended to the internship programs run by DOD and National Aerospace Solutions, LLC (NAS), the Test Operations and Sustainment Contractor for AEDC.
“We need both workforces (DOD and contractor) to provide world-class testing and analysis,” said Sarah Beth Morgan, Chief of Complex Support for AEDC. “Based on that premise, it made sense to join intern efforts to make sure all interns hired to support the AEDC mission understand as much as possible about the base, the mission, the DOD aerospace industry, and the way that both DOD and defense contractors work together to accomplish a common goal.”
The interns were encouraged to network across the two programs, but restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic limited the types of events that could be held. Leadership from the two organizations decided on holding a speaker series in the Arnold AFB Main Auditorium, where social distancing could be maintained while accommodating the number of interns attending.
The speaker series covered the following topics: integrated resilience, AEDC overview, the Saturn/Apollo moon landing, and a question and answer session with leadership from both organizations.
“I believe the joint presentations have been a great success,” said Chris Crumbly, NAS Technical Director. “The feedback from the interns has been very positive. In their final presentations, all of the NAS interns mentioned the joint speaker series as one of the highlights of their experience. I think next year, assuming we aren’t under COVID restrictions, we will endeavor to do more things together.”
Interns in both programs worked in a variety of fields at AEDC, including engineering, human resources, information systems and technology, project controls, public affairs, and legal, among others.
“The end goal of any internship opportunity is to provide the student with real life experience and for the company/organization to evaluate a potential recruit for permanent employment,” Crumbly said. “In this effort, both the Air Force and NAS are recruiting in order to preserve the excellent workforce we have at AEDC and ensure we do the best for the Air Force and our nation’s defense. Our joint efforts with our interns signal the close cooperation we have, and that is needed to operate this base at the high level of efficiency. I believe the interns who accept permanent positions at AEDC will value this integration of government and contractor, and we will be better for it.”
Morgan agreed, calling the AEDC intern program “invaluable to the future success of AEDC.”
She stated the benefits of the program are three-fold for AEDC: serving as an ambassador to colleges and universities, providing outreach opportunities to showcase capabilities and mission to the public, and enhancing employee recruitment.
“I hope we can continue to work with our NAS partners to have a combined intern program because I think it just reinforces the fact that we need government employees and contractor employees working together to accomplish our mission,” Morgan said.
COVID-19 protocols were strictly observed during the seminar series including social distancing and face coverings. Within these protocols, speakers were able to remove their face coverings when adequate distance from the audience members and other panel members could be maintained.