ATA career development in progress

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- Aerospace Testing Alliance's (ATA) career development program has been in place since 2006, lending transparency and guidance to career paths and the jobs associated with them.

We would like to spotlight an ATA organization that has used the program quite effectively - the Integrated Test & Evaluation Department (IT&E). IT&E supports career development for all salaried employees - not just philosophically, but with hands-on management involvement. Supervisors and employees work together to create individual development plans that are then fulfilled as budgets, workload, and schedules permit. Development plans are reviewed on a regular basis with an eye toward maintaining steady progress toward goals.

Professional development is undoubtedly a noteworthy piece of the IT&E culture. A couple of years ago IT&E Director Dr. Rob McAmis determined that a customized program was needed to further augment skills critical to the IT&E mission. Under his direction a technical leadership program was designed and launched, commonly referred to as DeEP, an acronym for Developing Engineering Professionals. Twenty-seven IT&E engineering professionals completed the program in fiscal 2012 and 23 in fiscal 2013. Fiscal 2014 marks the third consecutive year of DeEP with 22 participants. DeEP has been very well received and IT&E engineers have expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to participate.

In order to ensure participants continue to value the program, session topics are reviewed and modified each year in response to participant suggestions and changing IT&E requirements.

So, what's unique about DeEP?

DeEP is a nine-month program designed to engage a small group of top technical performers each year. Prospective candidates are identified by the IT&E management team. The purpose of the training is to develop individual effectiveness and broaden perspective such that candidates become increasingly more technically effective.

The analogy given to participants at the beginning of each year is, "Look around at the best, most effective technical experts at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), perhaps prior or existing AEDC Fellows. These individuals are highly technical and have both a deep and broad knowledge of engineering and scientific principles. However, these folks are also great communicators, have exceptional relationship skills, are effective listeners, and have a perspective that extends well beyond AEDC enabling them to best assess the needs of their customers."

DeEP is organized into four major segments that serve as an outline for sessions that progress from self-awareness to interaction with others, and then broaden to address current themes at AEDC, and finally an overview of Jacobs Engineering. During the closing session, McAmis explains his expectation that participants create plans to continue their development path forward.

Reflecting upon the success of DeEP last fall, McAmis conceived the idea of an advanced program to further develop leadership skills for engineers who have already exhibited leadership potential. Under his guidance, the Encouraging Ambition and Generating Leadership Excellence (EAGLE) program was designed. The first session met in January, attended by 22 participants. Like DeEP, EAGLE is a nine-month program, and participants are selected by the IT&E management team. Session topics address IT&E leadership challenges and capstone assignments are an important program element.

ATA is proud of these programs. Participants are not promised salary increases or promotions, but rather good quality development. Both programs include - first and foremost - hands-on engagement by McAmis and his management team; as well as exposure to theory, practice, reflection, feedback, and role models.

If you'd like to know more about the programs, please call me at 454-7170.