NAVAIR Commander's National Awards Recognize Excellence, Teamwork

By Emily Funderburk, Total Force Communications Support

NAS PATUXENT RIVER—Hundreds of NAVAIR employees were recognized at the 12th annual NAVAIR Commander’s National Awards ceremony June 20. The honorary team awards recognize technical, business and leadership excellence in support of NAVAIR’s strategic priorities: current readiness, future capabilities and people.

NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. David Architzel, who hosted the ceremony for the third time, was joined by Rear Adm. Steven Eastburg, vice commander, NAVAIR; Rear Adm. Jeffrey Penfield, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers; Capt. Harry Dunbrack, acting commander, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD); Command Master Chief Bret Joel; Kal Leikach, deputy commander, NAVAIR; and Jesse McCurdy, deputy assistant commander for research and engineering, NAVAIR.

“It was a year where you, NAVAIR’s workforce, reached new heights in nationally recognized ingenuity and made tangible breakthroughs because of a sharpened focus on our shared vision,” Architzel said in his opening remarks. “We proved yet again we are and will always be an unrivaled maritime force for good.”

The six NAVAIR Commander’s awards acknowledge achievement in business operations; quality of service and customer service; logistics and industrial operations; program management; research, development, test and evaluation; and science and technology. This year’s number of award nominations was the highest in NAVAIR history and reflected the diversity of NAVAIR’s programs, warfare centers, competencies and fleet readiness centers.

“Our successes lie in the uniqueness of our diversity and the broad swath of viewpoints, experiences and skill sets that we share with each other,” Architzel said.

Winners by category:

Business Operations (tie)

The NAWCWD Workforce Management Investment Module Team, led by Darrin Boston and Thomas Fuller, developed and implemented a tool to provide decision-makers across NAWCWD with accurate, reliable and timely data.

This tool gives managers the information they need to prepare contingency plans, take corrective actions, redirect workload and resources, and mitigate risk. The tool also ensures managers use their employees’ talents and abilities to their fullest extent leading to enhanced performance and efficiency, improved morale, and ultimately, superior product quality. Ultimately, the tool ensures decision makers have useful and accurate information to help implement a long-range workforce strategy.

The Wounded Warrior Recruitment Team, led by Tania Dawson and Capt. James Litsch, has developed and executed effective strategies to recruit, hire and retain wounded warriors as part of the NAVAIR civilian team. This includes implementing new and improved processes, developing a targeted wounded warrior branding and marketing campaign, establishing partnerships and networks nationwide through wounded warrior and veteran outreach events, and conducting unique training for individuals with disabilities in partnership with the Equal Employment Office. The program’s high-touch recruitment and outreach efforts have paid off in fiscal year 2011, NAVAIR hired 155 wounded warriors/disabled veterans, a 23 percent increase in wounded warrior hiring between fiscal year 2010 and 2011.

Quality of Service and Customer Service

NAVAIR’s Team Tomodachi, led by Randall Short, was formed in response to an urgent fleet need to support humanitarian aid disaster relief operations in Japan after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami off the island of Honshu and subsequent release of radiological contamination from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. During this lifesaving operation, multiple naval aviation platforms were exposed to radiological contamination. Team Tomodachi helped support the fleet in operational decontamination of exposed aircraft, developing processes and procedures for handling repairables, and continuing maintenance actions at all levels, enabling aviation assets to respond to critical tasking in the local and remote areas of responsibility. Team Tomodachi developed procedures for all type/model/series affected to enable their clearance from radiological controls.

Logistics and Industrial Operations

Using business-proven continuous process improvement, or CPI, methods, the Current Readiness/End-to-End Alignment Team, led by Chief Warrant Officer Robert Willis, introduced CPI to 14 squadrons across seven type/model/series, improving the fidelity of the demand signal at the source. The team optimized the squadrons’ use of local resources, analyzing legacy and newly-fielded type/model/series’ logistics chains, and provided the workforce with the tools they need to maximize their efforts to better produce readiness.

Program Management

The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Integrated Product Team (PMA-290), led by Capt. Mike Moran, achieved significant milestones over the past 18 months across all aircraft program portfolios. The team achieved a Milestone C decision, awarded the first two lots of low-rate production aircraft , and developed aggressive cost reduction initiatives, including a “model” Should Cost Plan for the P-8A Poseidon, yielding $1.2 billion in savings. The team also garnered a Milestone C decision and fielded the EP-3E Joint Common Configuration Spiral 3 aircraft to the fleet nine months ahead of schedule, delivering improved signals and communication intelligence-gathering capabilities to support operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

Research, Development, Test and Evaluation

The Biofuels Team, led by Richard Kamin, successfully completed qualification testing of a 50/50 JP-5 biofuel blend for use in naval aircraft in support of the Secretary of the Navy’s primary energy goal of reducing the Navy’s dependence on petroleum. The team developed and executed the test protocols, from laboratory through flight, which will be the cornerstone for all future alternative fuel qualifications. Testing included hundreds of laboratory tests, four engine tests, flight test on eight different aircraft, and a Blue Angels biofuel flight demonstration. The team’s efforts have paved the way to expanding the future supply pool to produce naval aviation fuel that will be more secure, greener and less susceptible to price volatility. Additionally, the team has been the catalyst for biofuel education and change through its ongoing efforts inside and outside the Navy.

Science and Technology

The Alcohol to Fuel Team’s innovative science and patented chemistry invention to produce cleaner, sustainable fuels has positioned the Navy advantageously to meet both current and future readiness objectives. The team, led by Michael Wright, Ph.D., achieved significant technical advancements in biofuel development. Their advances have resulted in Navy-wide acceptance of renewable energy technologies that get us closer to meeting the eight-million gallons of biofuel for fleet use by 2020 to meet the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” objective.

During the ceremony, Architzel also presented the Edward H. Heinemann Award, sponsored by the Association of Naval Aviation; the T. Michael Fish Quality of Worklife Award; and the NAVAIR Small Business Advocacy awards.

Small Business Advocacy Award Individual Category

As a result of Thomas Hill’s leadership, Lakehurst, N.J., was the first NAVAIR site to include the Market Research Checklist as a mandatory part of the procurement package. This enabled NAWCAD Lakehurst to identify more small business sources early in the acquisition process and increase obligations to small businesses as prime contractors by 89 percent from fiscal year 2009 to 2011. Thanks to Hill, NAWCAD Lakehurst received a “highly satisfactory” rating on a surveillance review conducted by the Small Business Administration in fiscal year 2011.

Small Business Advocacy Award Team Category

Recognizing the unpredictable changes in the theater of operations and the need for flexible contracting strategies, the Expeditionary Airfield Integrated Product Team, led by Bruce Chiodi, researched and located small businesses capable of performing each requirement.

This resulted in an increase of contract awards to small businesses in support of the U.S. Marine Corps, giving Marines the flexibility and capability to deploy and establish survivable, self-sustaining airfields in austere operating environments rapidly.

Edward H. Heinemann Award for Outstanding Achievement

The Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator Integrated Test Team, led by Cmdr. Kevin Watkins, Matthew Funk and Michael Rabens, advanced unmanned air systems integration with U.S. Navy aircraft carrier operations by successfully completing the first flight testing of the X-47B aircraft. The team also completed the first fully integrated tests of new automated carrier landing systems to support UAS operations, successfully performing the first fully automated shipboard arrested landing by an F/A-18 test surrogate using Precision Global Positioning System guidance.

T. Michael Fish Award for NAVAIR Quality of Worklife

Capt. Michelle A. Guidry changed the culture and workforce through her leadership. As a new program manager of the Tactical Airlift, Adversary and Support Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207), Guidry’s efforts have included strategic alignment, organizational design improvements to align skills and balance workload, targeted surveys, process improvements, enhanced training, improved team communications and an awards recognition program.

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