Faces of the Force: Doug Wong

POSITION: Chief Systems Engineer, Systems Engineering and Technical Integration Division
UNIT: Program Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey
TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE: 29 years
AWARDS: Commander’s Award for Civilian Service (2002, 2013); Achievement Medal for Civilian Service (2000 and 2001)
EDUCATION: B.S. in engineering, Polytechnic University; MBA, Monmouth University; Army Management Staff College


 

Thanks, Mr. Stampp

By Susan Follett

Chief Systems Engineer Doug Wong traces his interest in science and engineering back some 30-plus years, to his sixth-grade science teacher.

“His name was Robert Stampp and he’s the first teacher who got me interested in finding out how things work,” said Wong. “He taught us the basics, like how to find the area of a given space, and then translated that into day-to-day living: how to use that information to figure out how much I was making per square foot for all the lawns I was mowing at the time. Suddenly, math was useful.”

That interest led Wong to an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and eventually to an internship with the Army Materiel Command (AMC).

“At the time I started, my favorite action movie was “The Longest Day,” about the invasion of Normandy in WWII,” he said. “Beyond the drama of war, and bravery and leadership the movie depicted, there was gadgetry. Night-fighting with a ‘cricket’ friend-or-foe device, glider plane troop carriers, ‘dummy’ paratroopers distracting the enemy—I really liked how the technology at the time provided a decisive edge.”

Fast-forward three decades, and you’ll find Wong at the Systems Engineering and Technical Integration Division for the Project Manager, Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM MAS), which equips mounted and dismounted Soldiers with all calibers of direct fire ammunition for the Army’s current, Stryker and future forces. He is assigned there by the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center’s (ARDEC’s) Systems Engineering Directorate, the science and technology development arm for armaments to the PM.

In addition to his work responsibilities, Wong is involved in activities surrounding the PM MAS’ Take Your Child to Work Day, working with the local chapter of Women in Defense to lead last April’s event.

“Often, people see Take Your Child to Work Day as a day of free child care, or think their kids will spend time surfing the Internet or just being bored. But our office really takes it to heart, and developed a great program,” said Wong.

“Obviously, we can’t let kids fire weapons or use the ammo. But we demonstrate the kinds of experiments that help kids understand the science behind what we do. Additionally, we also give the kids roughly the same tour we’d give to a general officer.”

The day consists of presentations about the work that’s done at Picatinny as well as displays and hands-on access to demilled weapons, inert ammunition, battle gear and other high-tech initiatives.

“At the very least, we aim to make sure the kids have fun. And at the most, we hope they’ll come away with some new information or questions to ask their parents or teachers about later,” Wong said. “So in a small way, things have come full circle for me, and now I’m hoping I inspire kids the way Mr. Stampp inspired me.”

Doug Wong

During activities related to Picatinny Arsenal’s Take Your Kids to Work Day, Doug Wong demonstrates the chemistry of propellants in ammunition by dropping mint candies into in bottle of a soda. (U.S. Army photos courtesy of PEO Ammunition)

FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

WONG: What I do assures and ensures that a technology or product performs correctly and is sufficiently reliable, so that it can be introduced and produced into the PM’s program—ultimately putting capability into the hands of warfighters. My work helps to understand and articulate technology risks and maturity, enable programmatic decision-making, evaluate designs and trade-offs, and manage technology and technology performance criteria from which the warfighters’ requirements can be achieved and accounted for, by the design of the products and systems we develop.

Doug Wong

During activities related to Picatinny Arsenal’s Take Your Kids to Work Day, Doug Wong demonstrates the chemistry of propellants in ammunition by dropping mint candies into in bottle of a soda.

FOTF: What has your experience been like? What do you enjoy most about your work?

WONG: Across almost 30 years of education and experience, I have been fortunate enough to apply my skills across a diverse list of Army systems, products, programs and project managers. What has surprised me the most is that I am always learning and always applying my skills, albeit with a different slant for each organization.

My skills and experience as a systems integrator and systems engineer have allowed me to adapt quickly across multiple DOD and Army systems and PM environments, not only enhancing my own professional development, but also sharing my own lessons learned into very different programs and projects in [research and development].

FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in serving?

WONG: My greatest satisfaction is that all through my career I’ve been fortunate enough to have mentors and coaches to advise me along the way. I hoped that someday I could be a practitioner and do the same for others, and so I am trying to do just that.

I’m a mentor in ARDEC’s mentoring program, and I’m always looking for ways to share my skills in ways that can benefit the “next generations” of DA or DOD scientists and engineers, whether they are new employees, summer college interns, or through STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education outreach programs.

Take Your Child to Work Day is one example of instilling that interest in what the Army does, through simple experiments that kids can understand and enjoy and spark that interest that will shape their field of study during high school and college. The look on the kids’ faces when they see how things work and the interaction that takes place between us and the kids in explaining and demonstrating what we do—that’s what I really enjoy.

Doug Wong

Picatinny’s Take Your Child to Work Day provides participants with an inside look at the work their parents do, and highlights the importance of science and technology to the products the arsenal develops.

  • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.