Meet Cadet Jake Murdock, a rising senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) who is currently completing a three-week developmental assignment with the Project Management Office for Aircraft Survivability Equipment (PMO ASE) within the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO IEW&S).

As part of this program, he will support helicopter modifications in Army combat aviation brigades, beginning with the 1st Armored Cavalry Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, this fall. The Army DACM Office had a chance to sit down with Murdock and talk with him about this opportunity. Born and raised near Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Murdock is ranked 18th in his class of approximately 1,000 seniors, is on the USMA cycling team and aspires to be an Army aviator.

Murdock learned about the opportunity from his professor and unofficial mentor at the USMA, Capt. Clay Woody of the Department of Systems Engineering. Murdock had asked Woody about real-world opportunities in the systems engineering and aviation fields, and Woody helped Murdock get involved with a variety of projects. At the same time, PMO ASE and HQDA’s aviation staff element reached out to the academy and asked for assistance with the helicopter modernization effort. This request led Murdock to an assignment with PMO ASE in Huntsville, Alabama, to analyze data and metrics; observe, capture, organize and collect lessons learned; and develop ideas for a sustainable model to modernize the Army’s aviation fleet that will minimize cost and impact to operational units.

He recently took a few minutes from his work to speak with us about his experiences.

What special skills do you bring to the study?
I’m very deliberate. I try to focus on honing my work ethic and to distinguish myself in relationships with my co-workers and especially my professors. That’s been one of my strong suits—being able to work and communicate and try to really get down to what the actual problem is.

Can you describe the project you are assisting PEO IEW&S with?
West Point is a consultant on work with modernization of the Army vertical lift fleet and determining the best way to update the aircraft going forward. West Point cadets and faculty will be involved in this process in the coming years. I’m tasked with being the initial bridge of determining what the problem is, what the data collection opportunities are, and how the project looks.

Had you heard of the army acquisition corps before this assignment? 
This is the first exposure I’ve had to the Army Acquisition Corps, and I would like to get more exposure to it, not only from an aviation perspective, but across the entire Army. My personal career goals include making professional networking connections early on in my career for potential post-command opportunities in the future.

Do you think this experience would make you interested in joining the Army Acquisition Corps?
The Army Acquisition Corps has opened my eyes to another career path that’s not in the distant future, and has a lot of opportunities I learned about that are very enticing.


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