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Technical workforce gets taste of everything on Edwards

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Leaders often say the number one asset for the U.S. military is people. The engineers and scientists who help put the world’s most advanced weapons and aircraft into the air for the world’s most powerful military ensure that the 412th Test Wing is no different.

These scientist and engineers gathered for a meeting of the minds – a technical symposium -- June 5 at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here.

The technical symposium was the brainchild of Ann Harris who is the technical assistant to David Wheaton, 412th TW senior technical director. It was promoted as an opportunity for science and engineering professionals on base to learn about the different test programs being conducted outside their own units and given professional insight into the future of testing.

“One of my jobs working for Mr. Wheaton is to review of all presentations for public release,” said Harris. “Over the last year, I’ve read stuff that just knocked my socks off. Like, ‘We do that? This is amazing.’ About nine months into my tenure here, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if all these people would present again? In one place, right here at Edwards?’”

“Sometimes it can be hard to feel that what you do is important and matters. This was also a way to celebrate the huge contribution that the engineering workforce makes to the mission of the test center. We write the test plans, we monitor the missions and we write the reports. But we rarely get to see what other combined test forces are doing, or what other disciplines do. This was a step in rectifying that situation,” Harris said.

Presentations were given from various technical experts, test pilots, the innovation team, the statistics branch and a number of engineers who talked about test projects they’re working on such as high-altitude airdrop, Auto Ground Collision Avoidance, emerging technologies, weapons testing, sensors and weather radar data analysis. Non-technical lectures were also given on leadership and career development.

“There was really some good stuff there for every discipline. First of all, we hope that people came away thinking, ‘That was fun!” Beyond that, we hope all attendees came away having learned something interesting, whether it was related to what they currently do, or perhaps gave them some information on what they might like to do in the future.”

Harris said about 150 people attended the local seminar and the event was a success due to the support of all the presenters who took time out of their schedules to come, most for the entire day. Harris was also assisted by Lt. Col. Ivan Acosta, 412th TW deputy technical director, and the 412th TW executive staff.

“The technical symposium was an excellent opportunity for the S&E community to hear about some of the many fascinating tests and projects around the base, learn about lessons leveraged and gain some training on soft skills such as leadership and coaching,” said T.J. Wuth, F-35 Joint Operational Test Team lead engineer and attendee. “There were novel solutions presented as well as tough challenges that still need innovative thinkers to offer solutions. I hope to see more events like this and I'd encourage all my S&E peers to take the opportunity to get out and engage in the conversations and the networking that takes place in this type of setting.”

Harris added the test wing hopes to conduct more symposiums in the future.

“The engineering workforce that came out and spent the day, they were the ones who made it a success. The flight chiefs and chief engineers helped get the word out, but at the end of the day I am just honored and happy that the engineers thought it was a good enough idea to give it a try.”