U.S. Army Operational Test Command brought together leaders and leading minds Thursday for the first ever Partnership Day on Fort Hood.

The unique networking-meets-future combat technology format braided together unexpected connections between some of the most varied disciplines, with guests hailing from diverse areas such as local high school educators, university professors, contractors and members of the Killeen Chamber of Commerce.

“This is really an opportunity to bring government, industry, academic experts, technical experts and business partners together to learn more about Operational Test Command. What we do to test new systems to put them in the hands of the soldiers across the Army. Looking at technical problems, training problems and how we hire the experts that we need to test these increasingly complex systems,” said John Deim, OTC executive director.

With the assistance of Lt. Col. Timothy J. Ferguson, commander of 2nd Battalion, 8th Calvary Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and his soldiers, guests got up close with military equipment such as M113 armored personnel carriers, Bradley Fighting Vechicles and M1A2 Abrams Tanks the unit used while on their recent rotation to Eastern Europe.

Also featured was the recently tested M1A2 Abrams Tank System Enhancement Package V3 (SepV3) from General Dynamics Land Systems, with improvements in power generation and distribution.

Nancy Duran, Killeen Independent School District’s chief college, career and military readiness officer, plans on using this experience to help further the opportunities for students getting ready to graduate.

“The Army has evolved and the technology in the Army has evolved. I think it’s important for our students to have an accurate picture of the workforce they’re going to be moving into and for us, as educators, to have that picture and to be able to know how to best prepare them for that challenge,” she said.

Keith Biggers, director of computing and information technology at Texas A&M, knows just how much these types of partnerships are mutually beneficial. Texas A&M’s Process-Oriented Data Visualization (ProDV) software helps Operational Test Command improve testing and discover the unexpected when it comes to the extremely large and diverse collections of data that comes with being in the field. While at the same time, the partnership gave Texas A&M students valuable hands-on experience.

“We learn a lot about what the needs for Operational Test Command are here and how some of the technology we are developing can help better support those needs,” said Biggers. “Plus, getting to see the equipment and how it’s used provides another level of understand on what you see on the other end.”

Officials at Operational Test Command hope events like the Partnership Day not only increase understanding, but also interest and engagement with educators and contractors, with plans already underway to follow up with tours of the Virtual University Research Park and the Army Technology Integration Center.

“Hopefully, everyone left with a better understanding of operational testing,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William A. Justice, the command’s senior enlisted advisor. “Because at the end of the day, that is what we are about — ensuring that the soldier gets the best piece of equipment that we can possibly get them.”

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