2012 Corporate Awards


2012 Trustees’ Award Winner

Dr. James Hicks, senior engineering specialist, Communications and Signal Analysis Department, Engineering and Technology Group

Hicks was selected as the 2012 Trustee’s Distinguished Achievement Award winner “for sustained technical and programmatic leadership in resolving a critical signal intelligence problem that provides the intelligence community and combat forces a way forward to an integrated, worldwide situational awareness capability.”

Hicks developed a concept of operations and a processing algorithm to detect, collect, and process a signal designated as a critical intelligence need and one of the top 10 issues for national security, a significant challenge that the customer’s existing contractors advised was impossible to detect and exploit.

Hicks demonstrated that his algorithm had overcome all obstacles when he became the first to successfully collect and process this critical signal. He also supported the transition of the capability to the customer for production.

After a period of intense, detailed signal analysis and processing design, Hicks deployed to a mission ground station, when he worked tirelessly for up to 21 hours a day from a national space program, achieving unprecedented results. Over the length of his stay, Hicks collected four times more data on a high-value signal of interest using more conventional platforms than had been assembled over the signal’s entire history. He also contributed the first real time geolocation of this signal.


2012 President’s Award Winners

John Brekke, principal director, Human Exploration and Spaceflight, Civil and Commercial Operations

Matthew Eby, engineering specialist, Mechanical Systems Department, Engineering and Technology Group

Brian Hardy, senior MTS, Mechanic Research Department, Engineering and Technology Group

Randall Williams, systems director, Civil and Commercial Launch Projects, Space Systems Group

The team was awarded a President’s Achievement Award “for outstanding contributions made in characterizing external tank foam debris risk to the shuttle program.”

The team provided first-of-a-kind critical support within the highest stress environment conceivable: a critical national program involving human life. The team provided crucial foam debris risk analyses to NASA for the space shuttle, without which NASA would have had no clear path for return to flight after the Columbia accident.

The team developed a foam debris analysis tool to characterize the hazard of foam debris released from the external tank and striking the orbiter, which was the failure mode that caused the Columbia accident.

The team generated analytical and empirical results that enables the shuttle community to put the foam debris issue in the proper perspective at each flight readiness review, giving NASA confidence that the risk had been appropriately characterized before each flight. The team’s analyses and testing helped provide NASA leadership with the needed confidence to continue the fly-out of the shuttle program.


Allen Compito, principal director, Reconnaissance Systems, National Systems Group

Compito was awarded a President’s Achievement Award “for steadfastly applying the principles of mission assurance, leading to success on a critical national security space mission.”

Compito provided exceptional leadership and solid technical expertise to a group tasked with delivering a new and critical space capability. Entering 2005, the program was virtually stalled by the years of limited execution under the Total Systems Performance Responsibility approach of the early decade. Compito’s personal dedication to the success of the program was remarkable, as evidenced by his leadership in transforming the program into a viable entity as he introduced and instilled a solid mission assurance approach that was both effective and efficient.


Dr. Timothy Graves, laboratory manager, Electric Propulsion and Plasma Science, Engineering and Technology Group

Graves was presented with a President’s Achievement Award  “for pivotal contributions in identifying and mitigating RF breakdown failure modes within communication systems on multiple national security space programs.”

Graves identified the root causes of multiple RF breakdown anomalies during ground tests and on orbit in the GPS IIF L1 and L2 transmitters. Using unique test capabilities he developed, Graves uncovered new multipactor breakdown processes that cause permanent damage to mission-critical transmitter devices, the discovery of which ultimately allows for successful redesigns and alterations in the on-orbit operation of the entire GPS IIF constellation.

Graves’ persistent advocacy for addressing the technical risks resulted in the discovery of faulty circulators recovered from SV1 identifying an imminent failure that would otherwise have been launched. Through arduous hours, extensive travel, and dedicated commitment, Graves safeguarded the customer from a high-risk or costly redesign effort.


Dr. Ray de Gaston, senior project engineer, Directorate L Vehicle and MSN Engineering, National Systems Group

Dr. Robert Pan, project leader, Directorate L Vehicle and MSN Engineering, National Systems Group

Ty Rudder, project engineer, Directorate L Vehicle and MSN Engineering, National Systems Group

Dr. Brian McCarthy, engineering specialist, Component Analysis and Test Office, Engineering and Technology Group

The team was honored with the President’s Achievement Award “for innovative, rapid response and sustained excellence in recovering national security program performance.”

When critical national assets were impacted by a systemic single-point failure that surfaced in a crucial subsystem of a national security program asset, thus partially or totally removing half the program’s constellation from service, the team rapidly assessed the situation, proposed the root cause, and developed an effective, innovative solution using the attitude determination and control system of the vehicle to compensate for the loss of the subsystem.

The team galvanized key stakeholder decision makers to adopt their solution in a timely manner, thus restoring critical mission capabilities within a short period of time.

The team also provided technical guidelines to the contractors so that effective testing and analysis techniques could be applied to the redesigned subsystem used in subsequent assets, in order to avoid similar problems in the future.


Andrew Feistel, senior MTS, Flight Design and Optimization, Engineering and Technology Group

Dr. David Garza, senior MTS, Flight Design and Optimization, Engineering and Technology Group

Garrett Teahan, MTS, Flight Design and Optimization, Engineering and Technology Group

Dr. Wayne Hallman, department director, Flight Mechanics Department, Engineering and Technology Group

Andrew Dawdy, principal director, EHF Systems, Space Systems Group

The team was awarded a President’s Achievement Award “for developing and implementing an innovative mission plan to recover the Advanced EHF SV1 spacecraft.”

Following the launch of AEHF-SV1, in which a failure in its bipropellant propulsion system necessitated a complete redesign of the orbit transfer to recover the satellite and its mission, the team designed, developed, and executed an innovative, optimized mission plan that successfully transferred the space vehicle to  final mission orbit that fulfilled all mission requirements of this more than $2 billion critical asset.

The team tirelessly saw the mission plan through for a period of 57 weeks until the satellite reached its final orbit, a feat without which the first AEHF satellite would not have been able to reach a useful orbit, and thus its mission objectives. The loss of SV1 would have been a critical blow to protected SATCOM and worldwide enhanced data rate availability.


Sabrina Steele, principal director, Corporate Communications Directorate, Operations and Support Group

Steele was awarded a President’s Achievement Award “for significantly enhancing Aerospace’s reputation as the premier technical resource for all space endeavors.”

Steele significantly increased Aerospace’s visibility as the premier technical resource for national security, civil, and commercial space endeavors, culminating in Aerospace being actively sought by the global media as the go-to expert during the UARS satellite reentry.

Steele led a multifaceted effort to increase Aerospace’s visibility, and planned and implemented a series of initiatives, including reinvigorating the corporate brand, increasing news media use, and developing strategies for the corporation to increase its involvement with STEM programs. These efforts resulted in a transformed and broadened image of Aerospace.

Steele exhibited exemplary leadership and resourcefulness by creating a positive image for the company with very little change in the resource dedicated, raising awareness of the company’s value, and inspiring confidence in its achievements throughout the space community and the public.


2012 Excellence in Diversity Award Winner

Frank Fong, manager, Software Applications and Analysis Department, Software Engineering Subdivision, Engineering and Technology Group

Fong was cited by the Diversity Award committee for his broad volunteer efforts in support of workplace diversity and outreach to the greater community.

Since the 1990s, Fong has been involved with the nonprofit group LEAP — Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics — which encourages Asians and Pacific Islanders to assume leadership positions in the workplace and the community. He has been active with the Aerospace Asian-Pacific American Association and is a longtime volunteer for MathCounts, the national math competition for middle-school students.


2012 Office Professional Recognition Award Winner

Felicia D. Mathews, executive office assistant, Communications and Networking Division, Engineering and Technology Group

Mathews is the recipient of Aerospace’s inaugural Office Professional Recognition Award. She was recognized for demonstrating, in an exemplary manner, how an Office Professional can contribute to the achievement of corporate goals and accountabilities.  Her exceptional contributions supporting MILCOM, AIAA, and IEEE conferences over an extended time period were well beyond normal expectations.  Supporting these conferences, especially MILCOM 2010, had a very substantial impact on the Corporation’s national image and its effectiveness in the communications mission area.  Mathews also provided outstanding support to the TSAT TRA effort, especially in production of the final reports for each review, contributing directly to our corporate goals.  Mathews has been a member of the Herndon Award organizing team since 2003, and has contributed to all aspects of these annual competitions.  She is well known within Aerospace for her mentoring and leadership.