Picatinny Arsenal is new home for Defense Acquisition University program.

By Audra Calloway

Until now, acquisition professionals at Picatinny Arsenal had to travel significant distances to attend Senior Service College, but that has changed with the opening of a new school at the New Jersey arsenal.

The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Senior Service College Fellowship (SSCF) is a 10-month, graduate-level program that prepares Army senior civilians for high-level Army acquisition and sustainment careers, explained Chris Grassano, director of talent management and director of the Picatinny Arsenal Senior Service College Fellowship.

The first Picatinny SSCF cohort, or class, will begin in July 2019.

The fellowships were established to provide more civilians the opportunity to develop senior-level leadership skills, broaden and strengthen their acquisition acumen, and better understand the National Security Strategy and its application to the acquisition profession.

Additionally, the fellowship program allows civilians to attend service college without having to relocate, which reduces the financial strain of moving their families or being away from home for 10 months.

In addition to the broadened exposure that the fellows will obtain as a result of visits to DOD and contractor facilities, the fellowships also offer specialized learning objectives that are applicable to that location’s mission. For instance, the Picatinny SSCF will have speakers and trips focused on armaments and ammunition, since that is the mission of the primary organizations—including the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A)—at Picatinny.

“My Senior Service College Fellowship experience was personally very rewarding,” said Andrew DiMarco, deputy JPEO A&A and a graduate of the SSCF in Warren, Michigan.

“Although demanding, it provided me an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and abilities, and added a number of tools to my kit bag as I moved into chief of staff and deputy PEO positions upon completion of the program,” DiMarco said.

In addition to reading assignments and analyzing case studies, students take career-broadening trips, visiting Capitol Hill and combatant commands and attending seminars.

“The program brings together topics from the strategic through tactical levels while incorporating leadership and interpersonal development opportunities that will definitely enhance your skills,” DiMarco said.

WHO SHOULD APPLY

Ideal applicants are GS-14 or GS-15 (or equivalent) civilians who want to advance their careers and serve the Army at a more senior level—particularly civilians who have not had the opportunity for broadening experiences, such as working at the Pentagon or other organizations outside of Picatinny.

Grassano said the program is also for those who aspire to be a member of the Senior Executive Service, a project manager (PM) or in a director-level position.

In addition to Army civilians, other government- or industry-related employees in the local geographic region, such as reservists or Navy civilians, can apply to the SSCF.

“The fellowship allowed me to forge new relationships and share experiences with professionals from across the acquisition enterprise—something we don’t often have time to do at our local installation,” DiMarco said. “I highly recommend Senior Service College and the fellowship to those that want to expand their professional tool kit as they prepare themselves for more senior leader positions across the enterprise.”

The Picatinny Arsenal SSCF is the Army’s fourth. There are also SSCF sites in Huntsville, Alabama; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; and Warren, Michigan. All the sites participate via video teleconference, with instructors teaching from the various SSCF sites. There are breakout sessions within the sites, as well as online and onsite learning.

The next application window is expected to open in late 2019, with classes starting the following July. Acquisition professionals interested in applying can go to https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-senior-service-college/
or call 973-724-2651 with questions.

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