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Feb 9, 2023

Astronaut Inspires Change during National Black History Month Event

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the event, “Inspiring Change,” took place in celebration of Black History Month both virtually and in-person at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), China Lake, California.

Guest speaker Capt. Victor “Ike” Glover began his presentation with a quote from Carter G. Woodson, “We should emphasize not Negro history, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” Woodson launched Negro History Week in 1926 during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson's concept was later expanded to Black History Month.

“This inspired how I trained for and flew my mission on the space station,” said Glover. “NASA wanted to make it about me being the first Black man living on the space station. This month is to make sure we agree to telling the whole story.”

Glover was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a legislative fellow in the U. S. Senate. He most recently served as pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which landed May 2, 2021, for a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. He also served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64.

During his presentation, Glover talked about the love and support of his parents, his mother in particular, that got him to the point where he had options in his life and career. He also discussed how two teachers inspired him. 

Noticing that Glover would finish his work early, his fifth grade science teacher suggested he go around and assist his fellow students instead of talking in class freely.

“This put a seed in my head of helping people, my peers,” Glover explained. “He also said that I was really good with STEM, and that one day if I really focused, I could become an engineer. I didn’t even know what that was but his belief in me inspired me. I have three engineer degrees now because of that man.”

His high school math teacher found Glover working on a homework equation on the chalk board before class, and was so impressed he had Glover teach the equation in class.

“He changed my life,” Glover said. “At 16, my dream was to go to college and play football but I wasn’t dreaming big enough. Sports and my friends were more important to me than academics. He noticed a pattern in my math homework; math was speaking to me. I wasn’t confident in my academic ability but this day changed that.”

Glover attended California Polytechnic State University on a wrestling scholarship, where he discovered the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, a historically African American fraternity, and its focus on service.

“The theme of helping peers and helping others has been a thread running through my life story,” he said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering in 1999. He went on to earn a master’s in flight test engineering from Air University, Edwards Air Force Base, in 2007, a master’s in systems engineering from Naval Postgraduate School in 2009 and a Master of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University in 2010.

Glover joined the Navy in 1998 and earned his wings of gold on December 14, 2001. His career led him to the Marine Fleet Replacement Squadron, VMFAT-101, in Miramar, California, in 2002, the Blue Blasters of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-34 in Oceana, Virginia, in 2003, and later as the Navy’s exchange pilot to attend the Air Force Test Pilot School. He was designated a test pilot in 2007 and served with the Dust Devils of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 in China Lake, California. In 2009, Glover received orders to the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and later reported to the Dambusters of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-195, in Atsugi, Japan. In 2012, Glover became a legislative fellow and was selected in 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class.

“For astronaut training, you have to learn to speak and read Russian because half of the international space station is made by Russian aerospace companies,” he said. “Speaking that language creates a bridge between us.”

Vice. Adm. Carl Chebi, NAVAIR commander, kicked off the event.

“We derive tremendous strength from working together as teams of diverse individuals united by a common mission,” Chebi said. “Leveraging our full workforce – our different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs – is instrumental to our success and provides us new insights and perspectives on how we can best deliver the warfighting capability the fleet needs, at a cost we can afford.”

John Meyers, executive director, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), and NAVAIR African American Pipeline Action Team (APAT) executive champion, echoed those views in his closing remarks.

“Diversity of culture, backgrounds and thought strengthens us all,” Meyers said.  It’s a proven fact that a diverse workforce leads to better productivity and a better environment where people look forward to contributing to something greater than themselves. This year’s theme is “Inspiring Change,” and each of us has the power to do just that. Every effort – small and large – makes a difference.”

Regarding astronaut training, Glove continued, “You have to learn how to work the robotic arm in order to grab cargo vehicles and stick it to the space station. And, you have to learn how to do space walks. All to become qualified as an air crewmen in T-38. Minute-for-minute it is the best training.”

In 2015, he graduated in the first and only class comprised of both men and women. In 2018, he started training for first operational mission, which launched in 2020.

“You get your gold pin when you go into space,” he said. “I lived in space for 167 days, completing 200 to 300 experiments including making medications better, communications better and new propulsions for space craft. The science we do up there is really important. I also did five space walks in 45 days to upgrade the space station.”

He considers it his sixth deployment.

“I don’t miss the mission,” he said. “I miss the people. It was our home.”

Jan 27, 2023

NAWCWD teammates named Mentors of the Year

Sandra Scharn-Stevens of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake and Wei-Li Young of NAWCWD Point Mugu, received Naval Air Systems Command’s Mentors of the Year Awards in a ceremony Jan. 24.

Scharn-Stevens is the deputy director for Procurement and has been with NAWCWD for 40 years. She has mentored dozens of professionals and she routinely takes time to provide mentoring opportunities. Scharn-Stevens was nominated by the Procurement group.

Scharn-Stevens believes mentoring is important because it encourages people to do more than what they think they can, and to help them understand and believe in their own personal strengths.

She also gave credit to a former Mentor of the Year award winner, Dwayne Heinsma, who “helped me craft what to say and how to speak with employees and how to hold them accountable,” Scharn-Stevens said.

“[Mentoring] is an opportunity to invest in success of other people, identify and build on their strengths and it increases confidence and competence,” Scharn-Stevens said.

Young is a division director at NAWCWD Point Mugu and was nominated by 18 of her colleagues. She never had a mentor, but she did have help from colleagues throughout her career.

“Without the people supporting me throughout the years, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Young said.

Young strives to make an impact on those who she mentors.

“I want to show that I care to help them be the best person they can be at their job and in their personal life,” Young said. “The biggest reward for me is when I see and make a positive impact on someone’s life.”

For those who have aspirations to be a mentor, both Scharn-Stevens and Young say to just do it. Scharn-Stevens’ advice is to always stay in learning mode. Young says that if you see someone that could use some feedback, listen and be their advocate.

Jan 24, 2023

NAWCWD Celebrates PaaL Step 3 Graduation

Six Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division employees graduated from Professional at all Levels: Step 3 (Leading Organizations) in China Lake on Jan. 11. This final step in the PaaL program consists of a small-group, strategic planning intensive followed by six months of coaching and completion of an organizational strategy.

Katherine McLaughlin, Tony Small, John Caufield, Ariana Shermer, Ron Pruitt, and Kimberley Couture received their certificates after completing all phases of the PaaL program and presenting their 3-5 year strategic plans to senior leaders in attendance.

“Strategy is an essential component to leading our organization well. Without it, people feel adrift and wonder why they should stay. A clear, shared vision galvanizes and aligns the team, so they can move us into the future and feel proud of their work,” said Dalisia Coppersmith, head of NAWCWD Organizational Development.

PaaL includes three levels of leadership development: PaaL Step 1 (Leading Self & Others), PaaL Step 2 (Leading Teams), and PaaL Step 3 (Leading Organizations). Each step of the program instills separate but equally important leadership competencies needed at NAWCWD.


Oct 13, 2022

NAWCWD adds 36 ESDP graduates

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division honored 36 new Engineer and Scientist Development Program graduates during ceremonies Oct. 11 and 12 in China Lake and Point Mugu, California.

ESDPs complete three to five years of rotational tours, mentoring, and a minimum of 300 hours of training in addition to training toward receiving their Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level 2 certification.

This year’s ESDP graduates hold a wide range of degrees from more than 20 colleges and universities across the country – and one from Athens, Greece. Their personal interests include their pets, music, hiking, Kung Fu, and gaming, to name a few. That diversity of education, thought, and backgrounds makes NAWCWD stronger, said Dan Carreño, NAWCWD’s executive director.

“Diversity is not just about what your degree is, but also what your experiences are,” he added. “The best ideas come when you have a lot of backgrounds and perspectives on the team.”

Carreño recommended that graduates keep contact with the networks and mentors they gained during their ESDP experience.

“I promise you 30 years from now you’re going to remember some of them and need their support. Keep building those relationships.”

Rear Adm. Keith Hash, NAWCWD commander, encouraged graduates to find a good work-life balance to ensure they can bring their “whole selves” to solving the challenge of delivering capabilities the warfighters need at a cost they can afford.

“There are hard problems that we need you all, as our up-and-coming leaders, to take on and get after,” he said. “We need you to take care of yourselves, to be physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. You are now the leaders, and we expect amazing things from you.”

Fall 2022 ESDP graduates are:

Aaron Bunch, Adam Kollman, Adam Sher, Alejandra Perez, Alexandra Edwards, Austin Ogilvie, Baofan Pacheco, Christian Aranda, Christophyr Kline, Dennis Wu, Elijah Grubbs, Emily Karr, Eric Bohanan, Greg Kommel, Jason R. Stockton, John Mumford, Jomar Gonzalo, Joshua Miles, Kayla Rhynes, Kelly Alder, Lenny Mendoza, Lydia Amador, Mary Catherine Buckley, Michael LaBarbera, Morgan Eudy, Myrka Montaño, Nathan Rodriguez, Nicholas Pio, Niko Hatzopoulos, Rachel Finley, Ricardo Barreto, Rio Patraw, Thomas Crouse, Todd Dames, Ulysses Martinez Velázquez, and Yadier Manzanares.