NAWCWD tests new approach to basic RF, electronics training
More than 20 Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division employees entered the realm of amateur radio operations Dec. 13, thanks to a week-long class hosted by NAWCWD in Point Mugu, California.
The class, which ended with a Federal Communications Commission test for amateur radio licensing, offered NAWCWD employees a novel approach to radio frequency propagation training, said Brian Hill, lead for electromagnetic maneuver warfare experimentation in the Avionics, Sensors and E*Warfare Department. Hill is also the “innovation ambassador” for the department.
“I looked at the breakdown of current new hires and saw that many had degrees in computer science and thought that their classwork might not have covered things like RF propagation,” Hill added.
Rather than have employees sit through hours of PowerPoint briefings, Hill, an amateur radio operator himself, thought a licensing course might be a more dynamic, hands-on way to get the basics.
Originally, Hill had 10 slots funded, but then Ian Mann, Target Design Engineering Branch Head, got wind of the class. Mann also a licensed amateur radio operator, saw the potential and helped get funding to expand participation.
“I have had my license for almost 10 years, and I have been able to apply the knowledge from my class to several payloads and C2 systems of targets,” Mann explained.
Milton Gabaldon, Target Systems Division head, also saw merit in the approach. He sat in on the classes – and took the final test. For him, it’s about connecting the dots.
“It’s about introducing people to electronics, to start understanding what RF is all about … so when we talk about it in the test and evaluation world, they know what we’re talking about,” Gabaldon said. “They get a better view than ‘I just do software.’ Now they see ‘My software controls this piece, which sends out RF jamming signals that protect the warfighter.’ That’s the most important takeaway.”
All 23 employees who took the final FCC Amateur Radio License test passed and are now licensed at the “technician” level for amateur radio operation. Several also successfully tested at the higher “general” and “extra” certification levels. Hill hopes to offer more hands-on classes in the future.