Three employees of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center were presented Master of Armament Engineering certificates during the fourth commencement ceremony for the Armament Graduate School at Picatinny Arsenal.

Louis Agostino, Michael McBride and Tyler Rotunno were presented the certificates at a ceremony on Aug. 30 at the Canon Gate Catering Center. The ceremony featured the official party in traditional graduation dress, music by the Picatinny Powder Kegs, and three ceremonial salute rounds from a howitzer.

The Armament Graduate School is part of the engineering center, or ARDEC, whose mission is to empower, unburden, and protect the warfighter by providing superior armaments solutions that dominate the battlefield.

The center reports to the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM.

The graduate school provides a rigorous, graduate-level curriculum in armament engineering. The school is unique in that it integrates chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering disciplines while encompassing statistics, applied mathematics, material science and the scientific method.

The ARDEC director, John F. Hedderich III, told the audience that the work the students are engaged in could eventually result in products that Soldiers in the future would unpack and use in times of war. Yet technology itself is only part of the equation, he added.

“It’s really the brilliant minds that we harvest here, that is the real secret weapon against the people who want to ruin our liberty and freedom,” Hedderich said.

The graduate program and its tough curriculum are intended to develop better engineers and better scientists to develop better equipment, he added.

Donald Carlucci, chancellor of the Armament Graduate School, said the current graduates endured the rigors of the curriculum that included hundreds of hours of study and other challenges, which could be stressful to them and their families.

 “They emerged as recipients of this certificate that has no equivalent anywhere else. That’s what makes this program so special,” Carlucci said. “I am proud of students, organizations, and faculty that got us through another academic year.”