Story by Kimberly Brown on 08/02/2019Members of the Rapid Attack Information Dissemination Execution Relay (RAIDER) Team at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division received a 2018 Dr. Delores M. Etter Award in the Teams Collaborating Across the Naval Research and Development Establishment category during a June 28 ceremony at the Pentagon.
The RAIDER Team is comprised of multi-disciplined scientists and engineers, who perform software programming, maintenance upgrades and testing support for a variety of programs throughout the Department of the Navy and joint organizations. Their support includes live, virtual and constructive exercises, software validation and verification, as well as training of their products for external users.
"It's amazing what happens when you empower your folks and you trust them enough to unleash their creativity and initiative," said Erik Eldridge, technical project lead for the RAIDER Team. "The winners of this Etter Award are representative of what a government-only team can accomplish and I look forward to seeing what happens as we continue to grow and support more end users in other areas and venues. It's an exciting time."
Though the growing team encompasses over 20 members, the members who were honored for going "above and beyond" were recognized for their leadership, subject matter expertise and logistics coordination. Among their accomplishments were undertaking efforts related to U.S. Navy proprietary Link-16 message sets, leading fast-paced logistics efforts to deliver capability within a 10-day timeframe, support of a first-time RAIDER prototype unit installation on a surface combatant, as well as support for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 operational testing and H-14 service-level certification.
"We don't have any one-trick ponies,'" Eldridge said. "The things we do are so diverse and are utilized in so many different ways. Although we have people who have a primary skillset, they're also able to do so much more and I think that's a testament to the type of people we bring onboard. On this team, we look for talent, we look for attitude, we look for somebody who's a team player and says, Hey, put me in coach.'"
The gross majority of the team is comprised of either touring members of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program or who have recently completed their tours and are now full-time members of the team. Eldridge emphasized the importance of not only providing quality products, but also developing talent within the NAWCWD workforce as a whole. Members of the RAIDER Team have been introduced to guest speakers from the fleet and have had opportunities to visit training venues to connect them to the operational use of the products they produce.
"I'm a big believer in enabling ESDPs and investing in the overall NAWCWD workforce," Eldridge said. "We want them to make informed and dynamic changes to produce a better end result because they've got that connective tissue to an end user and can translate operator speak into technical data and technical requirements. That's a perfect case in point of how to improve speed to the fleet."
The Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award, named after the former assistant secretary of the Navy, was established in 2006. It recognizes and acknowledges civilian and military personnel for exceptional science and engineering achievements and contributions in their fields and to the fleet.
"For me, it's like watching your kid hit a home run or shoot the winning shot," Eldridge said of the team's honor. "I'm really excited, proud and humbled that they're getting recognized at such a high level of visibility."