VICKSBURG, Miss. – Henry “Hank” McDevitt was recently selected as the new deputy to the commander of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In announcing the promotion, ERDC Commander Colonel Jeff Eckstein said, “McDevitt has filled this position for the past year with distinction. Our Command Staff Division and its branches will benefit from his extensive experience in our Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL), where he served as an outstanding supervisor overseeing research and experiments. We look forward to McDevitt continuing our efforts to support our seven laboratories and the entire ERDC mission.”
McDevitt began his career at the ERDC-Waterways Experiment Station in July 1983 as a research structural engineer in the Structural Mechanics Division, part of the former Structures Laboratory (SL). He was involved with testing of new structural designs of hardened missile silos subjected to intense blast overpressures. From 1985-1988, McDevitt served as the lead project engineer on the Advanced Silo Hardness Test Program, sponsored by the former Defense Nuclear Agency. During this period, he supervised the fabrication and testing of more than 100 structures.
In September 1989, McDevitt transferred to the SL’s Explosion Effects Division and began working on military projects, including the anti-tank ditching technology called the Tactical Explosive System (TEXS). TEXS allowed for controlled creation of anti-tank ditches to create barriers to stop large mechanized units from crossing into U.S.-controlled space in the European Theater. He also researched the development of a standoff demolition technology called the Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), created for military demolition operations. Under McDevitt’s guidance, the EFP advanced to the point that a single device could be used to destroy reinforced concrete bridge piers as much as six feet thick as far away as 100 yards.
In the 1990s, McDevitt worked with specialized military units to develop new demolition techniques and technology. He helped develop and field components of a demolition kit that is still in use by the Army. McDevitt received two patents pertaining to his research, the Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Award and the Ralph A. Tudor Medal from the American Society of Military Engineers.
In Nov. 2000, McDevitt was named branch chief of the Impact and Explosion Effects Branch (IEEB) in the newly formed GSL, overseeing a 60-member team that conducts research in penetration mechanics, material property characterization, high-performance computing and conventional explosive/blast effects. He served a three-month assignment in 2012 as acting deputy director of the GSL, overseeing facilities, people, programs, organizational changes and communication strategies. Prior to accepting his new position, McDevitt served as ERDC’s acting deputy to the commander for nearly a year.
McDevitt holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Mississippi State University. Additional accolades include the ERDC Directors Research and Development Achievement Award, the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Award, the Society of American Military Engineers Young Engineer of the Year Award and the 2010 ERDC Supervisor of the Year Award. McDevitt published 15 ERDC technical reports and several refereed journal articles. He also serves as an adviser to several U.S. agencies and military units