VICKSBURG, Miss. ― Dr. David Pittman, director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), virtually addressed Vicksburg and Warren County community leaders during the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce meeting Oct. 23.
Pittman, who also serves as the director of research and development and chief scientist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, provided virtual attendees an update on the current status of the organization and stressed the importance of the “Power of ERDC” to the local community.
“We do nothing in the Corps of Engineers alone,” said Pittman. “We need small businesses and industry to help us take the ideas that might come out of the research and development process and turn them into solutions that the nation needs.
“We are really interested in working with industry. We can’t do what we do without industry. To that end, we have explored a few ways to do that — we have contracts, Broad Agency Agreements and Other Transactional Authorities.”
The ERDC also has a partnership with ERDCWERX that was created under a Partnership Intermediary Agreement to discover new commercial opportunities that leverage the research, intellectual property portfolio, facilities and unique testing capabilities at the ERDC. ERDCWERX has the tools to empower small businesses, entrepreneurs and academia to identify new partnerships for innovation and commercialization with the ERDC.
As the largest employer in Warren County, the ERDC has more than 1,900 employees who work on the main campus in Vicksburg, with more than 2,200 employees in the organization overall.
“We estimate the economic impact to be close to half a million dollars this year,” said Pittman. “We cannot do that without support from the local community, our congressional support or state support or industry and academia — all of our partners out there. And we’re still hiring. We do believe we are part of the community. If ERDC does good, Vicksburg and Warren County are going to do good.”
Pittman also discussed several STEM programs the ERDC sponsors across the community. The Vicksburg site holds a Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science, or GEMS, summer camp and participates in the Society of Military Engineers summer camp. ERDC also supports various camp invention programs at academic institutions within the Vicksburg community.
“We’re real big into creating the pipeline, because we need more scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians,” he said. “We feel it’s our responsibility as engineers and professionals in the area to help grow that pipeline.”
“We really appreciate Dr. Pittman’s commitment to what’s going on in the community,” said Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce. “Dr. Pittman really looks at the global picture. He is in touch with what is going on in the community and helps the Chamber to understand what is going on at ERDC. I think it speaks to a great future and partnership between Vicksburg and ERDC and the entire community.”
“We look forward to being a big part of this community today and for 91 more years to come at least,” Pittman concluded. “The future is very bright, and it’s going to be even brighter for us together.”