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    AFNIC engineers assist in Global Hawk beddown

    AFNIC engineers assist in Global Hawk beddown

    Courtesy Photo | Pat Katzer, show here during a deployment in 2009, recently provided network...... read more read more



    Story by Katherine Kebisek 

    Air Force Network Integration Center

    SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- When Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., officials needed to establish a more robust communications infrastructure to support a new tenant unit's Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft mission, they knew just who to call.

    "Pat Katzer is the best network engineer in the business ... we needed the best," said Col. Tammy Knierim, the 319th Air Base Wing mission support group commander, who contacted officials at the Air Force Network Integration Center here to request Katzer's support.

    Katzer, a network systems engineer at AFNIC, specializes in command and control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance telecommunications engineering, a specialty not widely available throughout the Air Force or at all at Grand Forks.

    Officials at AFNIC, an Air Force Space Command direct reporting unit responsible for shaping, provisioning, integrating and sustaining the enterprise network, frequently receive requests for specialized engineering and analysis, one of the center's core capabilities.

    The request for assistance from Grand Forks AFB officials came as part of the base's beddown actions for Air Combat Command's Global Hawk mission, for which base and wide area communications infrastructure is critical. The integration of the ACC mission system with the existing base infrastructure required professional engineering expertise.

    Katzer and her team first traveled to Grand Forks AFB in late 2010 to meet with personnel from the base and ACC to determine communications requirements and to begin developing engineering installation drawings. These products serve as the guide for civil engineer and communications personnel as they design, quantify and identify the necessary infrastructure for RPA operations. While there, Katzer and her team were able to immediately help simplify and focus the system drawings as well as troubleshoot issues the base and ACC personnel had been facing.

    "Ms. Katzer stepped right in and was invaluable to the team providing engineering expertise not resident at the base level," said Neil McComsey, a cyber planning and implementation officer for the 319th ABW. "She has helped us focus attention on the right things to keep us on time and provide the necessary common core services to the Global Hawk mission."

    There are typically four blueprint design stages for any type of architecture project: 35 percent, 65 percent, 95 percent, then final. The communications input provided by the AFNIC team during the first trip was incorporated into the architecture and engineering package, and helped greatly accelerate the project from the 35 percent design stage to 95 percent.

    "There had been a lack of progress because of all the unknowns, so it was good for us to come in because we had done this type of thing before," Katzer said. "We were able to accelerate the initial engineering by at least two months."

    Since then, AFNIC engineers have continued to play an integral role in the project, providing support to the on-site network engineer technicians and managing the acquisition of the information technology equipment to ensure requirements are delivered exactly as needed.

    "It's an exciting project," Katzer said. "It's small compared to some of the stuff we've done before, but it's such an interesting project overall and I think we have the right expertise to help make them successful."

    AFNIC network design engineers' projects vary in size and scope. Some take a year, some only a few months. One of the major projects Katzer has been involved in was the building of the Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia in 2009. She managed the design, costing, purchasing, installation and configuration of IT equipment for the facility's network. Her efforts earned her the 2009 Air Force Outstanding Warfighting Integration Civilian of the Year.

    "I love these projects," Katzer said. "It's some of the best work you can do as far as really getting into the networks and helping customers define their requirements. I've been in this business long enough to know what the customer needs."

    She went on to describe ways in which the expertise and experience she and other AFNIC engineers offer not only help projects run smoothly, but help operators identify requirements they may not have known they needed.

    "You've just got to keep the vision in mind of what they're trying to do; I think that helps," she said. "It's fantastic work, it really is."



    Date Taken: 03.03.2011
    Date Posted: 03.03.2011 18:00
    Story ID: 66438

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