Academy cadets wrap up summer mentoring program at AFOTEC

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Academy cadets traveled to four Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center locations to work as full-fledged members of operational test and evaluation teams and gain hands-on exposure to operational testing processes, products, and experiences for periods of three to five weeks from June through July.

AFOTEC hosted the USAFA Cadet Summer Research Program for a third year at locations in California, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. Eleven cadets participated in CSRP and worked on a variety of real-world Air Force projects ranging from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

"The USAFA CSRP is part of the AFOTEC Mentoring Program with USAFA designed to expose cadets to the type of opportunities and responsibilities they can expect to have when they are commissioned as second lieutenants," said Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, AFOTEC Commander. "The program leverages AFOTEC's experience in operational test and evaluation to create a comprehensive mentoring program for USAFA cadets during their academic and professional development."

At AFOTEC's Detachment 1 at Edwards AFB, Calif., Cadets First Class Roderick Mills, Carson Slater, and Jonathan Swift became members of the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team. Cadets Swift and Mills spent their time at Edwards developing a data management tool that consolidated developmental test pilot reports into a single database for trend analysis. Cadet Slater worked at AFOTEC Detachment 1's operating location in Fort Worth, Texas developing a tool for collecting data on F-35 health reporting codes. These tools were given to the detachment's suitability and test support sections to incorporate into daily operations.

"The cadets' projects provided us with data collection tools that we will continue to use throughout the current operational assessment of the F-35" said Col. Gary Cooper, AFOTEC Detachment 1 Commander. "We also provided them an opportunity to observe both developmental and operational test operations across the wide range of activity going on at Edwards so they now have an idea of the scope of test across the Air Force."

AFOTEC's Detachment 2 at Eglin AFB, Fla., had Cadets First Class Clay Adair, David Cooke, and Kyle Yohe engaged in building data analysis tools for the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy Jammer and Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System test programs to support initial operational test and evaluation. All three cadets will attend pilot training after graduation and each received an orientation ride in the F-16.

"Cadets Adair, Cooke, and Yohe made tremendous contributions to our operational test mission" said Col. Chuck Corley, AFOTEC Detachment 2 Commander. "They developed a data comparison tool that allows the test team to calculate the three dimensional MALD-J route deviation, displaying results graphically for comparison to ensure system requirements are met. Then the cadets created a data organizational tool for the DEAMS test program. This tool quickly integrates the large amounts of data and quickly determines traceability and accuracy. Finally they developed detailed documentation for both tools, allowing the training of new analysts and tool modification."

AFOTEC's Detachment 5 at Edwards integrated Cadets First Class Jeremy Granow, Austin Kootz, Christopher Leung, and Alex Volesky into test programs within the detachment's Bomber Test Operations and Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Divisions. The cadets were also exposed to Air Force Flight Test Center activities through the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School that included F-16 familiarization flights with TPS instructors.

"Cadets Leung and Volesky provided crucial support in the analysis of ground and flight test data from the B-1B Fully Integrated Data Link program," said Col. Paul Daly, AFOTEC Detachment 5 Commander. "Cadet Leung wrote numerous, necessary MATLab routines to help translate data link information into formats that could be compared with data from different sources. Cadet Volesky collected deficiency information and developed important post-processing tools for the tactical message formats. Their dedication and tireless efforts have greatly helped progress the reporting of the results from the B-1 FIDL operational assessment.

"Cadets Granow and Kootz designed a user-friendly Air Force contracted personnel deliveries database for the programs Global Hawk, Predator, Battlefield Airborne Common Node, Multi-Platform-Radar Technology Insertion Program, and Advance Signals Intelligence Platform," said Colonel Daly. "The product and effort was quick and easy to understand."

"Additionally, Cadet Kootz used tools available to minimize time of selecting by hand Essential Element of Intelligence and scenarios for each range and sortie to be flown by Global Hawk during initial operational test and evaluation," said Colonel Daly. "He used some selective and adaptive programming to increase the productivity of the combinations and developed several visual basic macro command programs to speed up the repetitive portions of the task and reduce the work from days to only three hours."

AFOTEC's Detachment 6 at Nellis AFB, Nev., had Cadet First Class Joseph Boben build an assessment of Circular Error Point calculation methods for bomb drop data. Cadet Boben also spent time on the Nellis flightline with maintainers and operators and had an F-16 flight.

"Cadet Boben also spent a few days on the range assisting the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Mission Employment phase by acting as a dynamic target for pilots to find and 'kill'," said Col. Greg Neubeck, AFOTEC Detachment 6 Commander. "Cadets are a welcome injection of high energy and youth to the unit. Joe fit right in and focused in on his task. We appreciate the opportunity to host cadets, especially those with engineering backgrounds, because most of what we do relates well to the cadet's academic background and gives them the opportunity to apply what they've learned in an operational test environment."

"AFOTEC continues to have great success in providing meaningful research projects for the Academy cadets," said Lt. Col. Scott Hunt, Headquarters AFOTEC point of contact for the program. "The various Academy departments sent us high-quality cadets, and we seamlessly integrated them into our test teams. We are compiling lessons learned from this year to apply to our program for 2011."

"These kinds of programs enable our future U.S. Air Force leaders to enter active duty with a better understanding and awareness of how the knowledge and skill they gain at the Academy will allow them to make a positive impact on delivering capabilities to warfighters expeditiously, to more effectively conduct their operations with less risk to our Airmen, and often our Joint and Coalition partners," said General Sargeant. "We look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial mentoring partnership with USAFA well into the future."