COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Project Manager for Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS), Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A), Conventional Ammunition Division
TITLE: Chief system engineer
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 37
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Practitioner in program management; Practitioner in engineering and technical management; Practitioner in systems planning research, development and engineering
EDUCATION: B.S. in mechanical engineering, Rutgers University
AWARDS: National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Firepower Management Award, Picatinny Chapter (2018); Honorable Order of Saint Barbara, United States Field Artillery Association (2001); Army Superior Unit Award, Department of the Army (2001); Certificate of Achievement, Defense Acquisition Executive (2000)
Kenneth B. Hurban
by Cheryl Marino
You don’t have to be a historian to learn more about your job or your program’s field or product, but you certainly can think like one to achieve a better overall perspective of your role and the mission of your organization.
According to Kenneth Hurban, chief engineer for the Conventional Ammunition Division within the Project Manager for Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS) in the Joint Program Executive Office Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A), a combination of past and current practices provide valuable insight and tools to analyze and explain problems in the past and position us to see patterns that might otherwise be invisible in the present.
“Become the office historian,” he said, by “spending time researching past development efforts in your program’s field or product while learning the current way of doing things.” This provides a crucial perspective for understanding—and solving—current and future problems for a well-rounded on-the-job experience. It also helps to get a firsthand look at products and processes, as well as take advantage of hands-on training in your field.
“Broaden your background by visiting Army bases, production facilities and ‘greening’ with Soldiers,” he said. Greening is a training opportunity that enables the Soldier Center workforce to better understand the experiences a Soldier has in a field environment. Hurban believes spending time with Soldiers is important because they come from all over the country, and world, and have a different set of life experiences. As a result, Soldiers approach learning and knowledge of tasks and attack problems differently than scientists and engineers, which, he said, is important to recognize and understand when you’re responsible for improving or designing weapon and ammunition systems. Seeing how products are being used provides better perspective on how they’re developed. “Our Soldiers are more creative than our engineers at using and developing new tactics for the items and products they are provided. They have always surprised me,” he said.
In Hurban’s role as chief engineer at PM CAS, he is responsible for reviewing requirements documents for new development programs, material change programs and system engineering actions and conducting preliminary and critical design reviews. He also oversees malfunction investigations involving mortar and artillery ammunition and serves on both the ballistics review and fire support interoperability boards, which integrate new munitions and systems into U.S. Army tactical data systems and software.
PM CAS develops, produces and equips Soldiers and Marines with conventional artillery and mortar ammunition, precision ammunition, mortar weapons and mortar fire control systems.
Hurban believes it is important to give our Soldiers the best equipment and tools to protect our country. “I am proud of the programs I have been a part of, and as a member of the acquisition workforce it was my responsibility to supply the best possible,” he said.
Before joining the JPEO, Hurban was a member of the Self-Propelled Artillery Branch, Fire Support Armaments Center at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, and was “deeply involved” with the M109A2 self-propelled howitzer production programs, while also supporting the development of the M109A6 self-propelled howitzer. “While I was there, I developed a strong relationship with my project management office colleagues and I’m thankful that they saw potential in me to offer a developmental assignment to join them.”
In addition to on-the-job research and hands-on learning in his field, he said career development programs like mentoring and program sponsorship for multiple quality engineering and system assurance Lean Six Sigma projects have also enabled him to excel in his field. “My latest career development program project was [and is] to lead investigations and determine root causes of artillery and mortar malfunctions. This proves to be a challenging effort involving multiple cross-functional teams involved with DEVCOM [U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command], JMC [Joint Munitions Command], USMC [United States Marine Corps] and Fires Center and Maneuver Center of Excellence personnel,” he said.
Hurban became a member of the Army Acquisition Workforce in 2000, after accepting the position for production management engineer for the Product Management Office for the M109A6 Paladin and M992 field artillery resupply vehicle. “In that position I became responsible for execution of the fiscal year 2000 production contracts for the U.S. Army National Guard. I also prepared program budgets and executed fielding of product improvements and tactical vehicle software modernization efforts,” he said.
Outside of work, Hurban believes most friends and neighbors would view him as quiet and introspective, which, he said, is quite different than what his co-workers would say about him.I like to challenge my coworkers to think of options and outside the box,” he said. “There is a lot of historical knowledge in older technical reports, but you need to dig for them.”
Hurban said he has a vast collection of Defense Technical Information Center and ARDEC technical reports and data collected from his own research and from retiring coworkers. “I seem to have files and folders on nearly all artillery and mortar ammunition items dating back to before World War II,” he said. As his career has progressed, he has looked to identifying coworkers that will maintain the knowledge base and continue to use it to learn moving forward. The best advice he would offer to coworkers or junior acquisition personnel is simple, he said. “Keep learning, reading, thinking and develop personal connections with your coworkers. Become the program subject matter expert.”
“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/.