On November 17th, Trial and Error Robotics had the pleasure of hosting ERDC’s Colonel Christian Patterson in our workshop at ERDC’s Future Workforce Development (FWD) Center. During his visit, we presented the Colonel with the operations of our team, as well as information on Gracious Professionalism and the FIRST organization as a whole. We spoke with the Colonel, who oversees ERDC’s operations as a whole, about how teams like ours can better interface with the professional engineers around them. Given his professional background in communications, the Colonel gave us helpful answers, and our journalists Lauren and Wesley were happy to sit down with him for the interview below.
Lauren: What is your background?
Colonel Patterson: Commander of ERDC. I’m kinda different because I have a communication background mostly in public relation and affairs as well as experience in print and broadcast journalism.
Lauren: You said you have a communications background. Is there a specific degree for that?
Colonel Patterson: Well, generally what you hear a lot is the term ”mass communication”, and there are a lot of specific fields under that umbrella. So you can be a journalism major, a broadcast journalism major, advertising kinda falls under there a little bit, marketing, and integrated marketing communications which kinda brings all of that together to do all of those functions. So, as time has gone on, it’s started to grow in different areas.
Lauren: How important do you think youth involvement is to the future of ERDC?
Colonel Patterson: Extremely important. As we progress through time, the problems that need to be solved become more complex. As such, we need younger engineers, mathematicians, and professionals in all disciplines to be prepared to solve those problems for the future.
Lauren: What advice can you give us for time management in our own projects?
Colonel Patterson: I would say be relentless to ensure that the time that you have is used wisely. Early in life you have the time to learn a lot of foundational knowledge, but as you progress through life, life will begin to impact you. And what I mean by that, in non-scientific terms, is one day you might walk out of a building and meet your husband. Whenever you look at life in that way you’ll have to adapt and adjust to the cycle that you’re going through.
Wesley: In FIRST we have this principle of Gracious Professionalism to ensure everyone is playing fairly, good sportsmanship, and these kinds of things, how do you think that concept can be translated into the workplace?
Colonel Patterson: It is extremely important to use that as a rule to operate and interact. In any profession that you work in, you have to have strong values and ethics. You can be the most talented person in robotics or whatever your profession is, but if you don’t have the foundational guiding values, it’s gonna be tough. Whenever you’re looking to get a job or trying to participate in any type of opportunity, a lot of employers will look at your values just as much as your talent and expertise.
Wesley: How should our team do a better job interacting and interfacing with professionals at ERDC?
Colonel Patterson: From the team’s perspective, it’s important to understand the structure of the organization and the pieces and parts that make it work. Know the labs, divisions, and branches. Know all the components to see the complete picture. At ERDC it’s a challenge to do that because it’s so vast, but it’s whenever you understand it at that level it opens up the opportunities to collaborate and partner. I’m really impressed with the operations going on here. This is one of the best kept secrets in Mississippi beyond just ERDC. If more members of the community knew what was going on, it would open their eyes to how special Vicksburg is as a community because of the opportunities going on here. [End Interview]
Thank you to the Colonel for taking the time to speak with our team members and tour our facilities. We look forward to increased collaboration with professionals at ERDC in the future.