University of Arizona Applied Research Corporation (UA-ARC) welcomes another UA-ARC SkillBridge Gateway Intern, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen J. Burr, US Army. 

Stephen Burr is an Active-Duty US Army officer stationed at Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, Arizona. He has been in service with the US Army for 30+ years as a Military Intelligence professional. Stephen has lived on and off in the Sierra Vista area for the past 25 years. He arrived first in the area to attend his Basic Officer course in 1995 and has returned five times for training and assignments to the US Army Intelligence Center, Fort Huachuca. Most of these assignments were with organizations supporting Army Intelligence Modernization.

Stephen graduated from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and the National Intelligence University, Washington, DC in 2008 with a master’s degree program in Strategic Intelligence. Mr. Burr’s assignments include nine total overseas tours to the Republic of Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, and Qatar as well as assignments to Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Lewis, Washington. 

Mr. Burr will transition out of Active Duty in this summer and will remain in the local area. His wife, a former US Army officer and graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, is a program manager for the US defense company, Leidos. They have two children: Livia, six and Lucas, three. 

As part of the Soldier For Life / Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP), transitioning Soldiers such as Stephen have an opportunity to take administrative leave while still on Active Duty and participate in Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge program as intern with local companies to gain experience and additional training. 

“I was amazed at this opportunity that DoD SkillBridge offers to transitioning Service Members. This time is invaluable to gain the knowledge and network with industry and academia to compliment my experience I gain working with the Fort Huachuca’s Future Center over the years. UA-ARC provides me an aspect to technology development that I did not experience much before this internship. I had good insight on how the US Army leverages our partners at commercial companies and universities for future solutions to its modernization needs. Yet, that prior experience was with mature technology or at higher Technical Readiness Levels and almost ready for fielding to the Army”, said Burr. “UA-ARC is working with UA and others to develop solutions to government requirements with just-emerging concepts and techniques. In addition, the development of solutions is much more rapid. The Army as well as other Services are working still on much longer timelines despite increased emphasis on prototyping to accelerate modernization in recent years.”

UA-ARC pairs interns with a “Gateway Track” that will allow interns to pursue additional education, direct employment, or industry experience. Stephen is choosing the experience path though the internship. 

“When I applied for a position with UA-ARC, I was concern about the impacts of COVID-19 on their operations to include what I could offer them and what I could gain during the pandemic. Luckily, they have adapted to this new reality well and I have had the full support and access to my immediate mentor, Mr. Shinohara, as well as the Program Director, Mr. Patrick Kerr and UA-ARC President, Austin Yamada. The organization is very flat and interactive”, said Burr. “I see that UA-ARC acts an incubator and mission manager for UA faculty to turn their ideas and work into practical solutions. Not just at time in the unspecified future, but in the near-future and for customers’ urgent needs. DoD and other US government agencies now see the great need to react and change in critical areas more rapidly. UA-ARC can provide the access to evolving technology at UA and its partners to US agencies at faster pace”.

UA-ARC’s current mission is in the areas of cyber, hypersonics, optics, health, and space intelligence. These areas provide interns with the opportunities to experience new requirements important to US government, especially the DoD. 

“I looked at the UA-ARC and saw some areas I was familiar with my time at Fort Huachuca. However, most of my experience was with tactical intelligence operations relied on more information systems as well as ground and air reconnaissance & surveillance systems”, said Burr. “The current programs of interest at Fort Huachuca do not overlap exactly with the UA-ARC’s core areas. Yet, as I see the work of UA-ARC in their programs and proposals, I see similar processes of examining a problem and envisioning opportunities. This capability, and their network of contacts, are their greatest assets.” 

As part of the SkillBridge program, every intern has a Capstone Project. Stephen’s capstone has two areas. One is the participation in optics and space intelligence proposals and programs, and the other is the planning for UA-ARC’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for its internal computing environment. The CMMC is a US national effort to secure systematically Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) systems for all US government partners. Although UA-ARC integrates with UA for most of its cyber support, there are special areas and concerns due to the nature of its operations. Classified information and its protection are and remain critical for government, industry, and academia. However, CUI is equally a concern since its exploitation by hackers is more probable and can be very destructive. The recent revelation of Solar Winds’ vulnerabilities and other attacks on the cyber supply chain illustrates the risk quite clearly. 

“I am not IT expert by any means. I have basic Security+ and Network+ certificates but I have not worked as IT professional; I took this training and certifications to better understand the current IT problems as a leader”, said Burr. “I plan to use this knowledge to work with our IT partners to better secure UA-ARC’s growing computer environment and our eventual transition to new facilities. I view this initial work as very helpful for UA-ARC as well as myself. “

“In all, I recommend SkillBridge program to everyone. It is a unique and invaluable opportunity for anyone transitioning out of the military”; said Burr. “I cannot think a better way to learn and gain current work experience than working with a SkillBridge partner such as UA-ARC. Especially, if you are like me exiting after nearly three decades in the military and re-entering the civilian workforce again under wildly different conditions and through the disruption of COVID-19”.