NAWCWD honors 70 new ESDP grads
Knife-maker. Carpenter. Blacksmith. Brewer. Origami master.
What might sound like a casting call for the latest Hollywood period drama is something even more interesting. These iconic characters use their medieval skills in their off time, but during the day, they blast out modern, high-tech solutions for the nation’s warfighters. They are some of the latest graduates of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.
NAWCWD honored 70 new ESDP graduates during ceremonies in China Lake and Point Mugu, California, on Nov. 19 and 20. 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 fall’s graduations bring the total number or graduates to just under 900 since the program’s inception in 2003.
And this bunch has degrees as varied as their hobbies, covering everything from physics, mathematics, and engineering to microbiology and law, just to name a few. That diversity of education, focus, and background are part of what makes NAWCWD special, said Rear Adm. Scott Dillon, NAWCWD commander.
“What we produce here can’t be produced elsewhere because of the expertise that only we are able to bring to bear in part because of the unique background, training and degrees that people like you bring to the table,” he said. “The organization would be nothing without that sort of special expertise.”
Harlan Kooima, NAWCWD’s Software and Mission Systems Integration Department director, issued graduates a challenge, now that they’ve completed this first phase of their career journey.
“Give yourself a challenge. Don’t be scared. Go find a really hard job,” he said. “Our Navy is being challenged on a daily basis. Every day we have Sailors at risk. What are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? You can do this. We can do this together.”
Graduates from China Lake were David Barahona, Douglas Barnes, Jared Berry, Donald Bickel, Lauren Bigalke, Nathan Boyer, Danielle Bridges, Myung Chang, Charlotte Conley, Melvin Deberry, Eric Duncan, Michelle Elroy, Joshua Elroy, Ryan Erb, Jemil Garcia-Sanchez, Ryan Giberson, Max Haber, Peter Hallsten, Andrew Hendricks, Jeremy Hush, William Jinkins, Justin Kis, Brandon Leadbetter, Justin Loundagin, Randall Martin, Matthew Maurer, Stephen McCallum, Blake McCracken, Justin Meidenger, Lynette Minnick, Steve Nino, Riley O'Rourke, David Peebles, William Phelps, Steven Schwade, Aamir Shahzad, Kyle Shermer, Alan Shi, Ross Shingledecker, Jeremy Siedschlag, Brian Siela, Kelly Small, Stenson Smith, Cristyn Smith, Jessica Stepro, Harry Tamayo, Santiago Toledo Ferreira, Stephane Valladier, Josh Warner, Sierra Wohlers, and Kellen Zelle.
Graduates from Point Mugu were Christina Ahn, Daniel Arias, Sajan Bhakta, Katherine Chaidez, Michael Chavez, Jared Eastman, Michell Feeney, Kevin Foley, Christopher Foster, Miles Frampton, Michael Hancock, David Heinzer, Jonathan Inake, Jeremy Karunaratne, Areli Lopez Chism, Douglas O'Neill, Arvind Prabhakar, Joel Rarang, and Loc Tai.