New class teaches engineers, testers how to “speak operator”

If you feel you absolutely must talk about cars, morality, or anything else not related to the F-16, do it here.
  • Author
  • Message
User avatar


Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 24283
  • Joined: 05 May 2009, 21:31
  • Location: ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Warnings: -2

Unread post03 Apr 2020, 22:19

New class teaches engineers, testers how to “speak operator” at NAS Patuxent River
03 Apr 2020 NavAirNews

"NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- A group of scientists and engineers at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River recently had a unique opportunity to participate in an innovative, two-week training course designed to help them better understand how warfighters use the systems they develop and test.

Developed in conjunction with NAVAIR’s College of Test & Evaluation, the course was an abbreviated version of the Tactical Engineer Development Program (TEDP). TEDP is a multimedia syllabus, developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) in China Lake, California, educates engineers and scientists on the operational context of the modern air warfare environment. The course introduces Naval and fleet operations, provides an overview of current challenges to national security, and provides hands-on experience with electronic and airborne warfare systems....

...Anderson, who traveled to NAS Patuxent River to teach the two-week super-short course, said the purpose of the program is to help the engineers and scientists who develop aircraft and systems to learn to "speak operator." To help his students grasp the difference in perspectives between the people who develop aircraft and systems and the warfighters who use them, Anderson finds it helpful to use a familiar analogy: smartphones.

"If a young engineer decided to go work for a company that makes the hardware or the software for a smartphone, they know the operating environment for that device because they live in that environment every day," Anderson said. "But Naval Aviation, by necessity and by nature, is cloistered and esoteric. You can't expect that same young engineer to have a nuanced understanding of that particular environment."

"A lot of us in the country today have never even met someone in the military," said Anderson, a former Naval Flight Officer who also served operationally with Marine Corps, Air Force and Army units. "This is an opportunity to give people a foundational understanding of the warfighter's environment — the things that concern them, and the things that drive the way we do business so that we can make a better product quickly the first time."

Students who took the intensive super-short course, which spanned 10 eight-hour sessions, said they gained valuable insights and looked forward to applying them when they returned to work.

"I've never been on a carrier and I've never even flown in one of these aircraft, so when I was instructed to design testing that would support the warfighter, I didn't have an appreciation for what the warfighter was going through. This made it difficult to design a test that allowed me to say this system was effective and suitable for them to use in battle," said Tiffenie Butterfield, an integrated flight test engineer on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20. "I've realized in order to grade deficiencies accurately, I need to communicate with my air vehicle operators and my Naval Flying Officers and say, 'This is what I'm concerned about. Is that the same issue that you see, or am I reading too far into this?'"

"Learning about the missions helps us to design and test systems better," agreed Nick Bartlett, an air vehicle test and evaluation branch head with VX-23. "I learned how to answer the kinds of 'So what?' questions that a lot of younger engineers ask, which will help them tie their work back to the fleet and hopefully help get better products out there faster."

"It's about giving a perspective and a common language," explained Donald Cox, VX-23's integrated flight test engineer. "Operators speak 'operator' and engineers speak 'engineer,' and this class helps us learn how to speak a little bit of both. It gives you the ability to have a conversation on a level you may not have realized you weren't having before."

..."Our motto is that we're here to support the warfighter, but it's hard to design something that's going to be used in an environment that you know nothing about," Smith-Lopez added. "To really support the warfighter, engineers and scientists need to understand how the warfighters actually think, speak, and use the systems that we develop for them.""

Photo: "Ian Anderson, director of the Tactical Engineer Development Program at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, discusses air combat tactics with class participants at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as a way to help them better understand the operational needs of warfighters. ... 3-6980.JPG (304Kb)

Source: ... 32020-1454
A4G Skyhawk: &


Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1441
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2008, 02:33

Unread post03 Apr 2020, 22:52

"As you engineers can clearly see, at this juncture the 'air vehicle operator' in my right hand is about to get 'stuffed' by the MiG-29 operator in my left hand."

"Of course, I do have the option of switching hands." :D

"Sir, what does 'stuffed' mean?"




  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2019, 00:07

Unread post04 Apr 2020, 01:13

This is one of the #1 jobs of a Field Service Rep or Engineer in my opinion. You are stationed with the maintainers and operators, and getting their concerns back to the home office in proper engineering terms and advocating for your customer is a very high priority.
P&W FSR (retired) - TF30 / F100 /F119 /F135


Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2138
  • Joined: 24 Mar 2007, 21:06
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Unread post04 Apr 2020, 05:15

All true, but there is a two-way street there. In development flight test, many test pilots I worked with in Structural Loads test had not been exposed to that kind of testing in Test Pilot School. They learned all about Stability and Control, Performance, Flutter, and Systems test, but little about Loads. They were always willing to learn, so we had minimal difficulties there. Some of the younger ones were surprised they had to perform the somewhat specialized Loads maneuvers the way I wanted. Once they understood why, we all worked together well.
Plus it was a great experience for me, learning as much as I could from them.


Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3016
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2011, 01:30

Unread post04 Apr 2020, 15:36

I’m wondering why it’s a ‘new’ class...


Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1332
  • Joined: 29 Jun 2004, 20:14
  • Location: Las Vegas

Unread post08 Apr 2020, 01:47

All Test Pilot Schools have been doing this for decades. Difference here is that TPS is an full year program and very expensive. This is a 2-week "Short course" that hits the highlights for folks who haven't been to TPS.
F-16 Program Manager
USAF Test Pilot School

"It's time to get medieval, I'm goin' in for guns" - Dos Gringos

Return to Off-topic

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests