COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, Product Manager Mounted Positioning, Navigation and Timing
TITLE: Mounted test director
ACQUISITION CAREER FIELD: Program management
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 12 years
MILITARY OR CIVILIAN: Civilian
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in program management and engineering
EDUCATION: M.S. in solid mechanics from Johns Hopkins University, B.S. in mechanical engineering from Loyola University
AWARDS: Achievement Medal for Civilian Service 2018 and 2016, Commander’s Award for Civilian Service 2015
HOMETOWN: Baltimore City, Maryland
by Ellen Summey
A fast car. An empty parking lot. A temporary race course marked with orange cones. Autocross racing is Matt Schumacher’s idea of a good time. “My passion has always been performance cars,” he said. His vehicle of choice—the powerful yet practical Porsche Macan Turbo crossover. It’s what Mario Andretti might drive if he needed to run an errand to Home Depot. “It’s got all the charisma and personality and fun that a Porsche sports car should have, but it’s got a back seat and a nice-sized trunk. It’s much more practical,” he said. And Schumacher knows a thing or two about practicality.
He started his Army career as an underbody blast analyst, examining the impacts of improvised explosive devices on military vehicles, with the goal of improving safety and survivability for Soldiers. Today he is the test director for Product Manager Mounted Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) within the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S). “I am responsible for testing all aspects of ground vehicle GPS systems for the U.S. Army; a fundamental capability enabling communications, maneuver and fires missions,” Schumacher said. “Maturing new capabilities that give our warfighters the ability to win brings satisfaction each day.”
At PEO IEW&S, the Mounted PNT team works to provide accurate and trusted PNT data for Soldiers operating in contested electronic warfare and cyber environments. Referred to as MAPS, the Mounted Assured PNT System sends data to multiple clients in a single platform, eliminating redundant receivers and providing an affordable path to the next-generation military encrypted GPS signal for brigade combat teams and support brigades. When GPS is not available, the system can use other information sources, like global navigation satellite systems, precision clocks, inertial measurement units and wheel speed sensors.
In this role, Schumacher has tackled lots of difficult tasks, which notably included two open-air tests where MAPS products were tested in a jammed GPS environment. The word “test” really doesn’t paint an accurate picture here. These are significant events, which require coordination with many organizations, including the 746th Air Force Test Squadron; Joint Navigation Warfare Center; Threat System Management Office; Army Test and Evaluation Command; Army Research Laboratory; the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation; the Assured PNT Cross-Functional Team; the Command Power and Integration Directorate and other program executive offices. These “live sky” test events were an important milestone for Schumacher and for PEO IEW&S—they successfully demonstrated the MAPS military-encrypted GPS capability and sensor fusion as a backup to GPS.
He said he owes his success to mentors and experiences that have broadened his understanding of the acquisition process. “Having great mentors along the way helped drive me to try new things and push my capabilities to the next level,” he said. Early in his career, he completed a developmental assignment at the Pentagon, working in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Through that direct exposure to the Army program executive offices, he was fascinated to learn how each was working to define, mature and deliver capability to the warfighter. “That assignment was a big shift, as it enabled so much exposure to how the Army acquisition machine works at the most strategic levels,” he said. “It opened up many doors and gave me a stronger fundamental understanding of how the Army operates.”
In 2019, he completed the Civilian Education System (CES) Advanced Course, which allowed him to form crucial relationships with other career Army civilians. The CES Advanced Course, which is offered to qualified civilians GS-13 through GS-15, focuses on leadership, implementing change, managing programs, integration and inspiring vision and creativity. “CES Advanced was a great opportunity to work with peers across a variety of acquisition and non-acquisition organizations,” he said. “I was able to learn and grow as a leader.” Schumacher said he tries to always be mindful of the most important advice he has received during his career—about the value in developing strong professional relationships with colleagues and stakeholders. “You cannot be successful by yourself,” he said. “Your ability to influence others and pull together a team of disparate personalities is the key to success.”
He shares that advice with junior acquisition colleagues as well and encourages them to make the most of every professional opportunity when given the chance. “Be willing to capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves, even if they come with great uncertainty,” he said. Anything can be a learning experience, whether or not it turns out to be the right fit in the long term. “Everything has a start and an end.” So, what’s next for Schumacher? Frequent trips to Home Depot. “My wife and I bought a house and we’re planning to raise a family here, so there are quite a few things to be done,” he said. He’s learning the ins and outs of home ownership, and keeping things in perspective. “I think I’m becoming more and more handy with each new light fixture and ceiling fan project,” he said. Thankfully, he has the trunk space.
“Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.
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