AFMC Command News

AFNWC leader retires, shares thoughts on successful career

  • Published
  • By Aimee Malone
  • Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center

Sharing knowledge and experience, working hard, and always planning ahead were the key components of success shared by a retiring Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center senior leader.
Dr. Brett Bedeaux, senior scientific and technical advisor for advanced nuclear hardness and survivability for AFNWC, recently retired from a 46-year career in national service.
Bedeaux began working for Sandia National Laboratories in 1976 at the young age of 17. He was hired for an apprentice program on building electronic systems, but he was always looking for the next advancement opportunity.
He began pursuing degrees to progress in his career, starting with an associate degree shortly after he finished his apprenticeship. By 2009, he’d earned a doctorate in materials engineering from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
“All of those degrees were because that next promotion was going to require another degree, so I kept getting more and more degrees,” Bedeaux said.
Throughout his career, Bedeaux was involved in a wide variety of projects, starting with electronic fabrication. He has been involved with underground nuclear testing, the Test Information Preservation Program, Sandia National Laboratories’ Weapon Intern Program, field intelligence, and more.
“The things I’ve done are incredible,” Bedeaux said. “Many of them I can’t talk about outside of work.”
Bedeaux credits his successful career to his ability to plan ahead and his eagerness to pursue additional opportunities, whether educational or on the job.
“The key to my success has been my willingness to go above and beyond,” Bedeaux said. “I always wanted to get a degree and plan the steps to get my next promotion. My advice would be to always have a five-year plan or a 10-year-plan. Even though it may take seven years to finish that five-year plan, at least you’re working on it.”
He also credited the people who have surrounded him during his career, both his coworkers and his family. He said his wife and children were very supportive of his career, knowing how important his work was both to him and to national security. And he thanked the co-workers and supervisors who were always willing to share information and support his pursuit of knowledge.
“I’ve always had two or three people in each of my positions that I’ve looked up to, and they were my mentors, though some of them didn’t even know it,” Bedeaux said.
While he hasn’t always been involved in formal mentorship programs, Bedeaux said he views mentorship as a constant process. He has tried to pass on that mentality throughout his career, sharing his knowledge and experience with others in his career field while learning from those around him with different backgrounds.
“He has left his mark on many, many people throughout his experience,” said Joseph Oder, AFNWC executive director. “He has inspired, educated and mentored dozens — hundreds — of people throughout his career, and those people have taken that experience and knowledge and continue to work for us today.”
“That’s the legacy of what Dr. Bedeaux has done for us,” Oder said. “He’s set us up for success in the future.”
Bedeaux urged others to share their knowledge and develop their own mentoring relationships with younger employees. It’s a great way to ensure that years of experience and institutional knowledge aren’t lost when people move on.
“Do your best to mentor those behind you because someday you’ll be in my shoes, turning your role over to them and giving them the keys to this kingdom so they can protect this nation,” he said.
A native of Albuquerque, Bedeaux was promoted in 2019 to a scientific and professional, or ST, position engaged in research and development in the engineering sciences field.
Within the Senior Executive Service, ST positions are unique non-executive positions engaged in research and development in the physical, biological, medical, or engineering sciences, or a closely related field.
In addition, he has published several peer-reviewed research papers, including one in the Journal of Applied Physics on “Velocity measurements of inert porous materials driven by infrared-laser-ablated thin-film titanium” (March 2010).