Mentorship Programs Are Joint (STARS) Ventures

Northrop Grumman is full of bright and talented employees, with many avenues to participate in mentorship programs. Mentoring is crucial in team building, talent development and effective collaboration, and no one understands this better than we do. Mentor Keith M., a systems test engineer, and mentee Braden R., a systems engineer, talk about their experiences on the Joint STARS (Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) program in Melbourne, Florida.

Keith M., Systems Test Engineer:

Supporting the Joint STARS platform means constantly developing and innovating new capabilities for the warfighter. Mentorship programs are not just about assigning two people to work together, but creating a culture where knowledge is continually shared in a collaborative manner. The mentor program on Joint STARS is a means of passing on knowledge of C2/ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) dominance achieved over the last 30 years. Transitioning from being a mentee to the tenured ranks of a mentor was a milestone in my career, one that allowed me to return the favor and pass my knowledge and experience to new professionals in our program.

When new team members join the Joint STARS program, they become part of a team. From interns to experienced professionals, each employee is assigned a mentor, and I am proud to be part of the team guiding them to success.

I am currently mentoring Braden, an enthusiastic and energetic learner, and transferring to him my experience on the Joint STARS team. It is exciting watching Braden learn the system and tools on the program as he gets closer to becoming a mentor himself.

Braden R., Systems Engineer:

When I joined Joint STARS last year, I joined a legacy celebrating 30 years of battle space information dominance for decision superiority. Joint STARS team members take their jobs seriously. The team is dedicated to mentoring employees of today to become the leaders of tomorrow, a path I’m proud to walk.

My mentor Keith and I were paired to support the Data Fusion System (DFS) onboard the aircraft. Keith has a decade of Joint STARS program experience supporting multiple key systems. Keith and I were recently sent to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to support initial ground and flight testing for our upcoming integrated release. It was early on in our baseline aircraft testing, and we were encountering an issue with the onboard DFS system. Keith diagnosed the issues and came up with the steps to perform the repairs. He took the time to explain his analysis and the debugging.

We consulted aircraft technical orders and, after reconfiguring and replacing hardware, we had the system up and running. Keith’s actions kept us on schedule for successful completion of our portion of the testing. When the day of the flight came, I felt confident that I was ready.

New Joint STARS employees, as a team, attend what’s known as Joint STARS 101: a five-day, hands-on, lab-based course led by an aircraft system operations instructor. When it came time to run the flight cards for course credit, I was prepared to use the system and execute the engineering test evaluation. Keith and the other mentors are always available to ensure I understand system capabilities. Their knowledge transfer process empowers and motivates me to dream up new capabilities for the system to support the warfighters of the future.


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