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Developing Air Force Systems Engineers - a Flight Path

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Journal Article

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Colorado Air National Guard Centennial United States

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Throughout my career, I have observed a dilemma that faces program managers PMs. How does a PM develop junior-level engineers into effective systems engineers My first assignment in the Air Force as a second lieutenant was as a systems engineer responsible for depot maintenance of a 500 million, one-of-a-kind weapon system. I was part of an integrated product team IPT that managed the work of a defense contractor. We provided technical oversight, long-term sustainment strategy, and contractual support. For more than a year, I was the only government engineer on the program and thus the sole person responsible for technical oversight of 10 to 20 projects at a time. I reviewed and approved drawings, attended design reviews as the lead engineer, supervised installations, and performed developmental test and evaluation DT and E. Clearly, I was a junior engineer in a senior engineers position. I was provided no systems engineering training or applicable system-specific training by my unit. Now, after 6 years as a systems engineer and PM, I have learned this is not uncommon.

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