ORLANDO, Fla. – A group of 17 students received their completion certificates during a graduation ceremony April 3, marking the end of the latest cohort of the Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) Acquisition Academy Apprentice Program (A3P).

Now in its second year of reactivation, A3P is an 11-week program consisting of more than 400 hours of classroom instruction in both virtual and in-person training environments, as well as familiarization trips to military installations.

Officially known as Cohort 2, the spring 2023 class was comprised of students with various experience levels ranging from current PEO STRI employees to new government hires. Career fields represented in this cohort included logistics management specialists, operations researchers, management analysts, budget analysts, financial specialists, computer scientists, electrical engineers, and computer engineers.

During the ceremony, Bruce Delaporte, director of talent management at PEO STRI, spoke on how A3P is designed to empower new defense acquisition professionals through a comprehensive program that provides a diverse base of knowledge to help them toward understanding their new career.

“Cohort 2 has not wasted much time over the last three months,” Delaporte said. “They have been quite involved learning, but also and potentially just as important, they have become a true cohort which will serve them well in their roles in the future. They have started to build their network.”

Delaporte thanked PEO STRI assistant program executive officers, program managers, program leaders, product managers, directors and support staff who helped to make the A3P possible. He also recognized Michael Landers from the PEO STRI staff, who served as A3P dean of students for Cohort 2.

Landers echoed Delaporte’s comments on the tremendous support received from the PEO STRI staff, external professional mentors, and local defense contractors in helping to make the A3P Cohort 2 so successful.

“This list continues with our academic partners in the University of Central Florida’s Recreation Center and the Central Florida Tech Grove,” Landers said. “When you hear folks use the phrase ‘One Team, One Fight’… this was a big team.”

Karen D. H. Saunders, SES, the program executive officer for PEO STRI, served as the guest speaker for the ceremony, and spoke to the highly diverse group of men and women from across the country about the competition for talent, Army priorities, the PEO STRI mission, and the important role of Army civilians as part of national defense.

“People are the Army’s #1 priority, and you have heard me say that every time I get behind a podium; A3P is a people program,” Saunders said. “Just looking at our graduates today you can see a highly diverse group of 17 men and women from a variety of ethnic, cultural, educational, and technical backgrounds. It is our people who provide us with an enduring advantage to remain the world’s most ready, lethal, and capable combat force.”

Saunders also spoke about the many opportunities available in the Army and reminded the graduates that the Army’s recent return to the previous recruiting slogan of “Be All That You Can Be” applies to them as well as new recruits.

“We are looking at you to become the next generation of product managers, project managers and project leaders,” Saunders told the graduating class. “And I am looking for someone to eventually replace me at the PEO.”

Members of the cohort said they enjoyed the opportunity to build comradery among their fellow students, and quickly realized how those relationships will help them in their professional careers.

“I know that if I ever have an engineering or a finance question since my discipline is in logistics, I can turn to my cohort members and vice versa,” said Samantha Beaupre. “I’ve made lifelong friends in this program.”

Beaupre said she encourages others who want to work for the Army as civilians to take full advantage of the A3P program, and her advice to others is to not pigeonhole into a single career field.

“Just because your discipline is in logistics, or finance or engineering doesn’t mean you have to solely focus on that,” Beaupre said. “Expand your comfort zone.”

Following graduation, the students will now begin a three-year rotational internship program, serving on the staffs of PEO STRI project managers and project leads across the organization.

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