WELCOME TO COMFRC

COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTERS

Fixing for the Fight
COMFRC News View More

May 4, 2022

FRCE engineers provide STEM support to area schools

Eastern North Carolina students are getting hands-on exposure to future technical careers, thanks to a small team of Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) engineers and educators who are bringing technology to area classrooms.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach falls under the umbrella of the Fleet Support Team’s Advanced Technology and Innovation (ATI) Team. The ATI team develops innovative technology programs and applications to solve problems that affect FRCE and Navy and Marine Corps aviation. The ATI team has dedicated two engineers and a former teacher to STEM outreach, with a goal of providing educational resources – such as equipment, project plans and volunteers – to area schools to assist teachers in developing technology-based lessons. According to Randall Lewis, Innovation Lead for the ATI Team, the end goal of this support is to encourage students to consider pursuing careers in a technology field.

 “Through our outreach efforts, we’re able to assist local educators with lesson planning and provide them with resources that the students may not traditionally have had access to,” Lewis said. “We’re able to take the curriculum that they’re teaching and apply it to more real world situations that we might encounter in the types of work we do at the FRC. That gives students the types of experience that they wouldn’t usually have had access to in a traditional classroom setting.”

The centerpiece of the STEM Outreach program is an innovative mobile fabrication space called the FABLAB. This eye-catching trailer is emblazoned with the FRCE logo and “FABLAB” in bold black letters against a red, white and blue background. Inside the 32-by-8 foot enclosed trailer are 10 computer work stations, four high-end 3D printers, a laser cutter and other equipment designed to allow elementary through high school students the opportunity to solve engineering problems firsthand.

Recently, the FABLAB made a visit to Tucker Creek Middle School in Havelock. Students from David Rackley’s seventh-grade Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) class gazed intently at computer screens as they pondered how to program miniature robots to follow an intersecting path on a piece of paper. 

Rackley said visits by the FABLAB provide a view of STEM opportunities that many children in regular classrooms may not be exposed to.

“Some students don’t get to attend STEM classes because of scheduling, so this is an experience most kids don’t really get,” Rackley said. “There are a few who are really into robotics or other technology, but the FABLAB really opens the eyes of other students and gives them the experience of seeing what’s possible as a future career.”

Chris Rivera, an aerospace engineer working on STEM outreach for the ATI team, taught the coding lesson to six classes of Tucker Creek students. He said that middle school is a good time to reach the students with STEM lessons to help make engineering and other technical careers seem more attainable.

“The kids may think that engineers are just a bunch of people sitting around computers all day, but we’re teaching activities to show students that it’s much more than that,” Rivera said. “They can see that there’s actually teamwork, problem solving, communication. Engineering is more of a team sport than the movies make it out to be.”

Rivera said the computers are set close together in the FABLAB so students can work together to come up with solutions.

“A teacher might call that cheating, but in the engineering world that’s good because you’re collaboratively working to solve a common problem,” he explained.

The STEM outreach team benefits because one of its members has experience as a classroom teacher. Michelle Smith, ATI educational outreach coordinator, taught middle school STEM classes before coming to work at FRCE. Smith’s role is to serve as a liaison between area school districts and the depot. In addition to the FABLAB, the STEM outreach program includes sending engineers to volunteer at career days, STEM nights, robotic competitions, engineering camps and other activities where they can leave a positive impression about technology careers in general and Fleet Readiness Center East in particular.

Smith said the team focuses its outreach efforts within a 100-mile radius of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, to communicate to local students that they can find lucrative engineering and manufacturing jobs close to home at FRCE.

“We are trying to strengthen our pipeline for our workforce, getting them interested in careers in engineering early, so we can be a part of their journey through school,” Smith said. “It’s important for us to be involved and provide an opportunity for interactions with current engineers so students will consider engineering and consider coming back to us so we can keep our local talent here in eastern North Carolina.”

The STEM outreach team recently learned it had won four new grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) New Start program to enhance FRCE’s existing outreach efforts. The outreach program already has STEM carts, complete with gadgets and activities, in all Craven County elementary schools. The “STEM is Elementary” initiative will allow the team to expand these carts to another local county and create design challenges for younger students. “STEM is Challenging” will develop STEM competitions for high school students and engage a more diverse audience beyond those taking engineering classes.  “STEM is for Everyone” will bring the FABLAB and other outreach activities to area Boys and Girls clubs and other community groups. The last initiative, “STEM is Flexible,” will focus on developing in-depth lesson kits that teachers can check out and present, often with the assistance of an FRCE engineer.

Lewis said it’s gratifying to see how far the outreach program has come since the FABLAB was introduced in 2016.  He said that with the ONR grants and better communication with area schools, the future is bright for STEM outreach at FRCE.

“We’re able to fund more things, so we’re able to do more things. It’s only going to be bigger, and that’s exciting,” Lewis said. “It’s really reflects positively on the FRC and the type of work that we do and the impact that we make.”

FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

May 4, 2022

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s Vertical Lift Product Line wins 2021 NAVAIR Commander's Award

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast's (FRCSE) Vertical Lift (VL) Production Line was recently recognized with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander's Award for Best Performing Production Line in the Quality Focus category.

Recipients were selected from among 81 exemplary teams and individuals across the enterprise. Awards spanned ten categories, which align with NAVAIR's focus areas: affordability, availability and capability speed.

'You are being recognized for delivering capability with greater speed, while improving readiness, availability and affordability,' said NAVAIR Deputy Commander Tom Rudowsky. 'You are leading by example and reinforcing the behaviors that are the building blocks for a winning NAVAIR culture. You're showing all of us how to get real and get better. I am inspired by your accomplishments and confident you will continue to do great things.' 

In early 2021, top leadership from the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) challenged the FRCSE VL team to return aircraft to the warfighter faster than ever before. The emphasis was on cost, schedule and performance for Planned Maintenance Intervals (PMIs), and the VL team delivered a huge turnaround time reduction of approximately 16 percent with zero deficiencies on Aircraft Inspection Discrepancy Reports (AIDR) and closed out the year at $3.1 million under budget.

'The team established a new aircraft production line benchmark with an overall cost savings from 2020 to 2021 of $4.4 million,' said Veronica Amato, FRCSE's Production Director. 'A huge feat considering not just the reduced turnaround time and zero deficiency AIDRs, but also various lingering constraints due to COVID-19. That's why we submitted the award package. The achievements from the folks in Vertical Lift were too outstanding not to garner recognition.'

For VL Production Line aircraft, PMIs are separated into PMI-1N and PMI-2N - the primary difference being that PMI-2N includes the painting process, which adds approximately a week to the timeline. The NAE requested a new PMI-1N goal of 120 days from 142 and a PMI-2N goal of 135 days from 161.

'At the height of the pandemic, we were tasked with reducing TATs by 20 days or more. We knew we needed to dive deep into our processes, hone skills and engage the artisans,' said Bruce Mobley, FRCSE's Vertical Lift Production Line Director, now retired. 'Also, considering we have two [VL production line] locations, one at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and one at Naval Station Mayport, we had specific challenges related to each site. It was well-known that Jacksonville had more personnel, closer oversight and proximity to resources, but site Mayport showed considerable heart, and that's how we were able to make the pieces work together so well.'

To tackle the new goals, the VL folks reached out to the Production Operations and AIRSpeed branch to help increase efficiency using things like the 5S Scorecard and project management tools like Concerto and Pipeline. They created detailed Work in Process (WIP) analysis to find the ideal pace and process for each maintenance phase, including pre-strip, disassembly, examination and evaluation, airframe repair, final assembly and ground/flight check.

Each day the VL team monitored the implementation of these tools and techniques via meetings in the Production Control Center (PCC), a Naval Sustainment System (NSS) concept designed to better track maintenance and mitigate barriers at the lowest level. The daily meetings ensured accountability and confirmed that the tools and objectives were being utilized to their fullest potential – ensuring full integration, optimum flow and minimal delays.

'Accountability was huge, and we were always strategic in our operations,' said Mobley. 'We checked in every day to be certain people were where they needed to be and focused on specific tasks. Success is bred from people, but NSS certainly gave us the tools we needed to succeed.'

Abiding by the tenants of NSS and various other continuous process improvement efforts, leadership confirmed that artisans were getting the direct support needed for high-quality workmanship each day. Methodologies like The 4 Disciplines of Execution, helped an already dedicated team flourish by utilizing ideas like Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) to increase quality, lower internal costs and reduce defective work hours by 47 percent.

'Our Vertical Lift team is the best in the business,' said FRCSE's Commanding Officer, Captain Grady Duffey. 'They've demonstrated tireless efforts to meet the Fleet's demand signal by significantly reducing the turnaround time and overall cost of PMIs with zero discrepancies. The team's commitment to excellence has earned them this distinguished award. They've set a new standard for all of us here at FRC Southeast.'

FRCSE representatives from the VL team accepted their accolades at a small gathering in Patuxent River on April 20.

About Fleet Readiness Center Southeast

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) is Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, employing approximately 5,000 civilian, military and contract workers. With annual revenue exceeding $1 billion, the organization serves as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers by maintaining the combat airpower for America's military forces.

 

May 4, 2022

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s Vertical Lift Product Line wins 2021 NAVAIR Commander's Award

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast's (FRCSE) Vertical Lift (VL) Production Line was recently recognized with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander's Award for Best Performing Production Line in the Quality Focus category.

Recipients were selected from among 81 exemplary teams and individuals across the enterprise. Awards spanned ten categories, which align with NAVAIR's focus areas: affordability, availability and capability speed.

'You are being recognized for delivering capability with greater speed, while improving readiness, availability and affordability,' said NAVAIR Deputy Commander Tom Rudowsky. 'You are leading by example and reinforcing the behaviors that are the building blocks for a winning NAVAIR culture. You're showing all of us how to get real and get better. I am inspired by your accomplishments and confident you will continue to do great things.' 

In early 2021, top leadership from the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) challenged the FRCSE VL team to return aircraft to the warfighter faster than ever before. The emphasis was on cost, schedule and performance for Planned Maintenance Intervals (PMIs), and the VL team delivered a huge turnaround time reduction of approximately 16 percent with zero deficiencies on Aircraft Inspection Discrepancy Reports (AIDR) and closed out the year at $3.1 million under budget.

'The team established a new aircraft production line benchmark with an overall cost savings from 2020 to 2021 of $4.4 million,' said Veronica Amato, FRCSE's Production Director. 'A huge feat considering not just the reduced turnaround time and zero deficiency AIDRs, but also various lingering constraints due to COVID-19. That's why we submitted the award package. The achievements from the folks in Vertical Lift were too outstanding not to garner recognition.'

For VL Production Line aircraft, PMIs are separated into PMI-1N and PMI-2N - the primary difference being that PMI-2N includes the painting process, which adds approximately a week to the timeline. The NAE requested a new PMI-1N goal of 120 days from 142 and a PMI-2N goal of 135 days from 161.

'At the height of the pandemic, we were tasked with reducing TATs by 20 days or more. We knew we needed to dive deep into our processes, hone skills and engage the artisans,' said Bruce Mobley, FRCSE's Vertical Lift Production Line Director, now retired. 'Also, considering we have two [VL production line] locations, one at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and one at Naval Station Mayport, we had specific challenges related to each site. It was well-known that Jacksonville had more personnel, closer oversight and proximity to resources, but site Mayport showed considerable heart, and that's how we were able to make the pieces work together so well.'

To tackle the new goals, the VL folks reached out to the Production Operations and AIRSpeed branch to help increase efficiency using things like the 5S Scorecard and project management tools like Concerto and Pipeline. They created detailed Work in Process (WIP) analysis to find the ideal pace and process for each maintenance phase, including pre-strip, disassembly, examination and evaluation, airframe repair, final assembly and ground/flight check.

Each day the VL team monitored the implementation of these tools and techniques via meetings in the Production Control Center (PCC), a Naval Sustainment System (NSS) concept designed to better track maintenance and mitigate barriers at the lowest level. The daily meetings ensured accountability and confirmed that the tools and objectives were being utilized to their fullest potential – ensuring full integration, optimum flow and minimal delays.

'Accountability was huge, and we were always strategic in our operations,' said Mobley. 'We checked in every day to be certain people were where they needed to be and focused on specific tasks. Success is bred from people, but NSS certainly gave us the tools we needed to succeed.'

Abiding by the tenants of NSS and various other continuous process improvement efforts, leadership confirmed that artisans were getting the direct support needed for high-quality workmanship each day. Methodologies like The 4 Disciplines of Execution, helped an already dedicated team flourish by utilizing ideas like Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) to increase quality, lower internal costs and reduce defective work hours by 47 percent.

'Our Vertical Lift team is the best in the business,' said FRCSE's Commanding Officer, Captain Grady Duffey. 'They've demonstrated tireless efforts to meet the Fleet's demand signal by significantly reducing the turnaround time and overall cost of PMIs with zero discrepancies. The team's commitment to excellence has earned them this distinguished award. They've set a new standard for all of us here at FRC Southeast.'

FRCSE representatives from the VL team accepted their accolades at a small gathering in Patuxent River on April 20.

About Fleet Readiness Center Southeast

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) is Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, employing approximately 5,000 civilian, military and contract workers. With annual revenue exceeding $1 billion, the organization serves as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers by maintaining the combat airpower for America's military forces.

 

May 2, 2022

ENC Tech Bridge Industry Day focuses on problem solving

More than 80 representatives from businesses, nonprofits, academia, local government and military entities came together to explore how collaboration can accelerate solutions to the Navy and Marine Corps during the Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Tech Bridge Industry Day/Technology Scan April 27.

Held at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center, the event focused on problem-solving, networking and STEM pipeline development. The Industry Day/Technology Scan marked the first working event held by the ENC Tech Bridge, which was launched Jan. 27.

As part of an Office of Naval Agility (NavalX) network, 17 Tech Bridges aim to bridge the gap between the Navy and emerging entities like startups, small businesses, academia, nonprofits and private capital that aren’t traditionally part of the Navy’s development and acquisition process. The ENC Tech Bridge operates in conjunction with a partnership between Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) and Craven County.

FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont said he was excited to see participants from a wide variety of backgrounds taking part in the event, and was hopeful the ENC Tech Bridge would continue to build on the energy it has generated since the organization’s launch three months ago.

“The ENC Tech Bridge is still young, but we are enthusiastic about the opportunities it brings,” Belmont said. “It serves as a conduit that allows for us to share ideas, identify possible solutions and deliver capabilities to the warfighters, ideally faster than we could through traditional methods, and allows us to enlist these nontraditional partners in solving some of the Navy and Marine Corps’ most pressing issues. We are excited and committed to this initiative.”

In the Technology Scan aspect of the event, three companies presented briefings or demonstrations of technologies they offer that could help solve issues facing naval aviation and military maintenance, repair and overhaul operations: digital inventory tracking of small tools, and the on-aircraft measurement of a bearing liner’s remaining thickness. In order to participate, the companies first submitted white papers regarding their technologies. FRCE technical experts reviewed submitted white papers, assessed the technologies’ potential usefulness in a military depot or fleet environment, and issued invitations based on those criteria.

One participant, Anurag Kulshrestha, said he was excited about the opportunity to demonstrate his company’s tracking technology during the Technology Scan. The president and chief executive officer of Anantics said the company has done similar work for other American and international clients, and has been searching for an opportunity to do the same with the U.S. federal government. Kulshrestha said he saw the call for submissions on SAM.gov, the federal government’s website for contracting and award management initiatives, and recognized an opportunity to provide a live demonstration of the technology as a sort of proof of concept.

“I’m happy to be here and, hopefully, we have the technology solution the Navy needs,” he said.

In addition to the Technology Scan, the day’s events also featured a brief introduction to the Tech Bridge Program, an overview of the FRCE Advanced Technology and Innovation Team, an explanation of the Department of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, and a discussion about expanding outreach and awareness for STEM programs to build a sustainable STEM education and training pipeline for the production efforts of the U.S. Navy and beyond.

With such a wide range of topics covered, the event offered something for everyone who attended, said ENC Tech Bridge Director Jeff Nelson. All participants benefitted from at least one of the in-depth briefings that opened the event, and the expo provided an excellent opportunity for networking.

“I saw a lot of the attendees having very in-depth conversations with the exhibitors and with each other during the expo, and I believe that speaks to the success of today’s event,” Nelson said. “We’ve been able to strike a chord with information that was pertinent to our participants, and also facilitated them making connections with the ENC Tech Bridge, with FRCE and with each other, and that’s an important part of what we’re trying to accomplish here.”

The ENC Tech Bridge works to build an ecosystem of innovation to support the Navy and Marine Corps with a focus on several areas of consideration, including manufacturing and repair technologies; advanced manufacturing; big data, data analytics and visualization; technical insertion; augmented and mixed reality; automation and robotics; and soft and wicked problem solving.

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.