AFOTEC hosts cadets for summer research program

Cadet First Class Andrew Novak receives an incentive flight in the back seat of an F-15 during a training sortie with the 65th Aggressors Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev. Cadet Novak spent five weeks at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center’s Detachment 6 at Nellis as part of a mentoring program between AFOTEC and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The program leverages AFOTEC experience in operations, acquisitions, and test to create a comprehensive mentoring program to assist USAFA cadets during their academic and professional development. Cadet Novak is an aeronautical engineering student.

Cadet 1st Class Andrew Novak receives an incentive flight in an F-15 Eagle during a training sortie with the 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 15. The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, based at Kirtland AFB, N.M., held the U.S. Air Force Academy's second-annual Cadet Summer Research Program at AFOTEC locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center is hosting the U.S. Air Force Academy's Cadet Summer Research Program for a second year at AFOTEC locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and the AFOTEC headquarters at Kirtland. 

Cadets in the summer research program work on real-world Air Force projects during five-week sessions. There are 13 cadets working within AFOTEC in a variety of technical positions compared to last year's seven cadets during this year's May 15 to June 18 session. 

"Cadets work as members of test and evaluation teams and gain exposure to the operational testing processes, products, and experiences by accomplishing important tasks as full-fledged members of operational test teams," said Maj. Gen. Steve Sargeant, AFOTEC Commander. "The research projects the cadets are participating in leverage on-going test and evaluation of major Air Force warfighting capabilities and allow the cadets to be active members of the test teams working test design, execution, and analysis." 

The USAFA Cadet Summer Research Program is a part of the AFOTEC/USAFA Mentoring Program, a joint effort between AFOTEC and the Academy, that seeks to develop an understanding of the tasks, responsibilities, and requirements many cadets find themselves facing upon graduation. The program provides AFOTEC personnel with experience in operations, acquisition, and test and evaluation, creating a comprehensive mentoring program to assist USAFA cadets during both their academic and professional development. 

Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of faculty, wrote in a letter to General Sargeant, "I know the AFOTEC experience is greatly bolstering the technical and leadership development of our participating cadets." 

"Our mentoring program with USAFA cadets enables these future U.S. Air Force leaders to enter active duty with a better understanding and awareness of how the knowledge and skill they gain at the Academy will allow them to make a positive impact on delivering capabilities to warfighters expeditiously, allowing our Airmen to more effectively conduct their operations with less risk to themselves, and often our Joint and Coalition partners," General Sargeant said. 

"Hosting detachments and program POCs will gather lessons from the 2009 summer program experience that we will use to further refine the program for 2010," said Lt. Col. Scott Hunt, Headquarters AFOTEC point of contact for the program. 

The idea for the AFOTEC/USAFA Mentoring Program grew from a meeting between General Sargeant and General Born in October 2007 when they discussed ways to create opportunities to fulfill the then Secretary of the Air Force's desire to increase the cadets understanding of and excitement for engineering and scientific career field options available to them after commissioning. The generals agreed to pursue a collaborative mentoring program involving AFOTEC personnel with Academy cadets and faculty. 

AFOTEC is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.