Employee Spotlight: Meet Dr. Paul Cummings
Our employee spotlight shines a light on one employee at a time. We value diversity and inclusion and welcome diverse thinking. It takes a village — through collaboration, living safely and driving innovation we realize our goals and help our clients achieve mission success. Our mantra is people first, mission always. Today’s Q&A is with Dr. Paul Cummings who recently earned his doctoral degree.
How did you come to join Amentum?
I met the Amentum team during a capture effort and was supremely impressed by the level of professionalism and enthusiasm that I knew I had to join this firm!
What is your professional and personal background?
Since my early days developing interactive educational games with Sesame Street, my career has always been to help companies develop innovative strategies that span thought leadership, innovative technology development, research, and business development excellence. I’ve published several papers in artificial intelligence, human performance, learning theory, and social complexity.
I sit on the I/ITSEC simulation and training committee supporting emerging concepts. And I recently received my Ph.D. in Computational Social Science.
Personally, I am a volunteer with HeroDogs, where my family raised a service dog named Captain to support Veterans with disabilities. I am also a piano player (I own an old Steinway from 1887 that I like to play fairly often. I am sometimes, to my chagrin, asked to play at internal team meetings).
Describe the work you do and how you think it makes a positive impact.
It’s a very exciting time at Amentum. Although we come from a long history of success, the firm now stands as its own entity, and I believe it is up to us to shape what we believe it can be. My work is helping to build Amentum’s technology dominance, primarily in training, modeling and simulation, and machine learning. However, I am one of many in a team of outstanding technology leaders run by Phil Horvitz.
What are some of your accomplishments and/or what has been your proudest career moment?
I feel that coming from a family of military veterans (and not being one), I’ve been proud to support our veterans through physical and trauma recovery using virtual reality. In the past several years, I have developed and published work on using VR to train first responders in combat casualty care, and I have developed several programs related to using VR to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
What do you enjoy about working for Amentum?
Without sounding banal, it really is the people. My boss leads with this tenet: everybody is doing the best that they can and deserves to be recognized for what they bring to the team. I also find the teams that I’ve worked with at Amentum are willing to take risks in putting their thoughts into the mix. That is the sign of a culture that helps people to feel safe to express opinions, which I believe is the only way to drive innovation and success.
What are you passionate about?
Creative learning and self-expression: I believe in order to be successful, we have to be willing to constantly grow and learn over our lifetime. I decided a long time ago that if I am given the privilege to learn, whether it be through formal education, mentors, or simply life experience, take it. Oh, and don’t flaunt it; nobody likes a showoff.
What’s your career advice?
Success in your career has very little to do with pleasing others. It’s about carving out the person you believe is your best and bringing that to wherever you go. Never ever let people dictate who you are; that is for you alone to decide and do whatever you can to protect that.
What does safety mean to you, or do you have a favorite safety tip?
Use your head. Always assume that you’re going to fall when you’re riding a bike and for goodness sake, wear a helmet. I’ve broken a few bones along the way, but happy to report my brain is relatively intact.
What’s the best invention in the world and why?
The off button. Whoever created that has helped me to be a much better musician, writer, and exerciser.
Anything else you would like to share from a personal or professional perspective?
Continue to try to integrate all of your passions into the work you do. Use your creativity, intelligence drive, grit, personality, and humor. And get a dog. On your worst day, a dog will remind you how important you are.