The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground welcomed cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this summer to work on chemical and biological defense projects.

The cadets were taking part in the academy's Advanced Individual Academic Development (AIAD) program, which provides cadets with an opportunity to observe and implement concepts from their coursework over several weeks during the summer months.

Ten cadets were selected to receive their additional training at ECBC. They have been at ECBC during two- to three-week rotations. It is a volunteer program where the students forfeit their vacation to receive additional laboratory academic credits toward their education.

By coming to ECBC, the cadets are working with some of the most experienced subject matter experts in the field of chemical and biological defense in the nation. While the hands-on experience will be valuable to them, the ECBC mentors who will be hosting a student will also gain a valuable direct connection to the soldier, the end user.

"This program is a great opportunity for ECBC to mentor the future generation of Army leaders," Senior Research Scientist Augustus Fountain Ph.D. said.

The cadets were able gain insight into the difference between a research laboratory versus an academic laboratory and learn about the Army's research, development, test and evaluation enterprise.

Cadet Benjamin Lacey, an incoming sophomore at the academy, worked on proteomic mass spectrometry in the Point Detection Branch of the Research and Technology Directorate during his rotation at ECBC.

"Ben's enthusiasm and dedication to learning as much as he could during his time here at ECBC was inspiring," Lacey's mentor, Mary Wade, Ph.D., chief of the Point Detection Branch, said. "It makes me appreciate my work to help the warfighters and future warfighters, like Ben, even more."

While this was not ECBC's first year hosting cadets with the AIAD program, ECBC is working with West Point to expand opportunities for West Point students and faculty to do research here. A memorandum of understanding is being staffed between the two organizations that will provide cadets with more AIAD opportunities, support faculty research in support of chemical and biological defense needs and provide a fellowship opportunity for ECBC researchers to periodically teach at the academy.

As part of the Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's soldiers, ECBC is the nation's principal research and development resource for non-medical chemical and biological defense. As a critical national asset in the CB defense community, ECBC supports all phases of the acquisition life-cycle, from basic and applied research through technology development, engineering design, equipment evaluation, product support, sustainment, field operations and demilitarization, to address its customers' unique requirements.