DOD Funds Engineering Tech Program in North Alabama

From left, Victory Solutions Vice President David Alan Smith, CEO Kris McGuire and IDEA Executive Director Chris Crumbly worked to establish the Systems Engineering Technology Program, using an award from the U.S. Department of Defense.

A new education program to train systems engineering technologists has been launched in North Alabama. Students will learn digital modeling and other skills to support systems engineers — a skill set particularly in demand in the space and defense businesses in the Huntsville area.

The U.S. Department of Defense has provided a $9.9 million grant over the next five years to fund the Institute for Digital Engineering Advancement (IDEA), which will manage the program.

The program itself is developed and managed by Victory Solutions and its CEO Kristine McGuire, Auburn University and Calhoun Community College.

Auburn professors Greg Harris and Greg Purdy, both with the department of industrial and systems engineering, will lead the program, in conjunction with James Payne, dean for business and computer information sciences at Calhoun and David Alan Smith, senior vice president of Victory Solutions.

Leader of IDEA is Chris Crumbly, recently with the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, which was developing a similar program before the pandemic.

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“Our SET curriculum will prepare a workforce of systems engineers equipped with the digital engineering skills necessary to enable future U.S. technology development,” Harris said. “Systems are much more complex today and there is a great demand for systems engineers from organizations such as the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy. The SET program will address this demand and establish a workforce pipeline to enable trained systems engineers to make an impact.”

“It’s imperative, on both economic and national security grounds, that we identify and achieve efficiency gains in our engineering and product development processes,” Payne said. “People looking to start a technical career in the Huntsville area will find this program to be a promising addition to the opportunities Calhoun already offers. We look forward to building this program from the ground up and establishing it as a nationwide standard.”

“IDEA will introduce the SET concept to community college systems across the nation and remain as a subject matter expert to support education and connect organizations with experts, graduates and interns,” Crumbly said.

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