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NEWS | March 20, 2019

AMCOM’s Chief Counsel speaks of Huntsville woman who broke barriers at Redstone Arsenal

By Lisa Hunter

AMCOM’s Chief Counsel, Kim Tycer, spoke at the Redstone Arsenal Women’s History Month Observance, Wednesday.

Tycer was one of six panel members, all senior executives from agencies on Redstone Arsenal and the Huntsville community. This year’s theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence. Each panelist spoke of the achievements of a visionary woman.

Tycer spoke of a Huntsville woman that she met at church.

“It started when I sat down at a table with Dr. Virginia Kobler at a church potluck and I asked her what she did,” Tycer explained.

That random connection led to Tycer learning much more about Kobler who, during her 36-year career on Redstone Arsenal – broke barriers for herself and those who followed.

 Kobler earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, but was unable to get a job working in her field. She started her federal career as a librarian, GS 7, at the Redstone Arsenal Scientific Information Center, part of the Von Braun Complex in 1967. From that position, Kobler moved on to become the first female scientist to work in the Simulation Center – Radar.

Kobler returned to college, earning and a master’s in Operations Research from the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH).  In 1979, Kobler earned a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering at UAH, the first woman to ever earn a doctorate degree from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

With her Ph.D. in systems engineering, she continued her work with the U.S. Army, where she established the command and control program for the National Ballistic Missile Defense of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

“I asked (Virginia), ‘What are your words of wisdom?’ “She told me, ‘Always be positive. Take advantage of every opportunity that crosses your path and never give up.’  That’s exactly what she did,” Tycer said.

Kobler was the first person to assume responsibility for ground-based command and control in Huntsville, where her algorithms are still being used in the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system.

“She spent 36 years here at Redstone Arsenal as a true pioneer for women.” said Tycer. “She led the way for women and minorities into the workforce, and actively mentored women in science.  I’m really pleased to have Virginia as my friend, and am glad to let you all know more about her. I think she’s a fascinating individual.”

Among her many accomplishments, she received the Pioneers in Space Award, during the 1995 General Convention, for her technologically advanced tools used in NASA and Air Force space programs.

“We (as leaders) need to step up to the plate and be mentors to people,” Tycer said. “Not just mentors in our fields, but anybody that comes across our path that is interested in being a leader – we can give them guidance, and we can help them.”

Tycer has served as the AMCOM Chief Counsel since June 2016. As the Chief Counsel, Tycer is responsible for providing legal and fiscal advice to the Command, the Program Executive Offices and others. She previously served as the Chief Counsel for the U.S. Army Contracting Command.