NAVAIR

Chirkis earns civilian service award

Ken Chirkis, center, head of the System Safety Engineering Branch, celebrates his receipt of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award with Harlan Kooima, director of NAWCWD Software and Mission Systems Integration, and NAWCWD Commander Rear Adm. Brian Corey during an Aug. 29 ceremony at China Lake. (U.S. Navy photo)

Ken Chirkis, center, head of the System Safety Engineering Branch, celebrates his receipt of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award with Harlan Kooima, director of NAWCWD Software and Mission Systems Integration, and NAWCWD Commander Rear Adm. Brian Corey during an Aug. 29 ceremony at China Lake. (U.S. Navy photo)

Sep 5, 2017

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NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION, CHINA LAKE, Calif. - In honor of his technical leadership contributions to the areas of system safety engineering and major weapon system acquisition, Ken Chirkis received a Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award from Rear Adm. Brian Corey, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division commander, during a surprise ceremony on Aug. 29 at China Lake.

Chirkis currently serves as the head of the System Safety Engineering Branch. His work spans from weapon system acquisition and insensitive munitions to holding a position as a Naval Air Systems Command principal for safety on programs such as the Joint Standoff Weapon and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile among others. Additionally, he has served as a NAVAIR technical area expert for Weapon/Store Safety Integration as part of the NAVAIR Flight Clearance/Airworthiness Process since 1989.

“The fruits of his committed service over more than three decades have readied numerous weapons and target systems for fleet use,” according to his nomination.

Corey expressed great appreciation for Chirkis’ expertise.

“We have come a long, long way,” Corey said. “We forget these lessons if we don’t have professionals who stick with it for decades. Ken is not only a recognized expert here, but throughout the world.”

Other awards that Chirkis earned include the NAWCWD Michelson Laboratory, and NAWCWD Research and Engineering Awards. He’s been teaching at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as an adjunct professor after-hours and has been involved in mentoring throughout his entire career.

“I think the mentoring is absolutely as important as any of the widgets he has worked on because it will live in our workforce long after he chooses to hang it up,” Corey added.

While Chirkis didn’t deliver the brief he was lured to the ‘meeting’ for, he did take time to let those in attendance know how much he enjoys working at China Lake.

“I feel as blessed as any one person can be, first of all, for working here at China Lake; it’s one of the best places to work in the world,” he said. “I tell that to everybody that comes in the door. I tell members of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program how lucky they are to be here, how they can make a difference every day, and to look at this not just as a job, but as a career. That’s what I did.”

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<p>China Lake, in California’s Mojave Desert, is home to NAVAIR’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD). Few areas in the world offer such wide variety of geographical features in close proximity...mountains, deserts, canyons, caves and forests. The unencroached air and land ranges at China Lake provide unmatched geographic conditions in which to develop and test weapon systems and explore tactics for desert and mountain environments.</p>

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