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US Navy Explores Amateur Radio as a Training Adjunct:

from The ARRL Letter on February 14, 2019
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US Navy Explores Amateur Radio as a Training Adjunct:

The US Navy's Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD https://www.navy.mil/local/nawcwd/) has adopted Amateur Radio training as a possible new approach to basic RF and electronics instruction. More than 20 NAWCWD employees took part in a week-long class in Point Mugu, California, in December. The class, which culminated in an examination session for the Technician licensed, offered NAWCWD employees a novel approach to teaching radio propagation, said Brian Hill, KF4CAM, the lead for electromagnetic maneuver warfare experimentation in the NAWCWD Avionics, Sensors and E*Warfare Department. Hill, who got his license while he was still in high school, is also the department's "innovation ambassador."

"I looked at the breakdown of current new hires and saw that many had degrees in computer science and thought that their classwork might not have covered things like RF propagation," Hill said. Rather than have employees sit through hours of PowerPoint briefings, Hill thought that a licensing course might be a more dynamic, hands-on approach to convey the basics -- and cover areas such as directional antennas, signal propagation, and modulation that are necessary for their work.

Initially, Hill had 10 class slots funded, but then Target Design Engineering Branch Head Ian Mann, KI6YVO, got wind of the class, saw its potential, and helped get funding to expand participation. Mann, a General-class licensee and a ham for nearly 10 years, said he's been able to apply knowledge learned in the class to his NAWCWD work.

Target Systems Division Head Milton Gabaldon, also saw merit in the approach. He sat in on the classes, took the exam, and he's now KM6YPA. For him, it's about connecting the dots.

"It's about introducing people to electronics, to start understanding what RF is all about ...so when we talk about it in the test and evaluation world, [students] know what we're talking about," Gabaldon said. "They get a better view than 'I just do software.' Now they see 'My software controls this piece, which sends out RF jamming signals that protect the warfighter.' That's the most important takeaway."

In all, 23 employees who took the Technician exam passed, and several also successfully tested at for General and Amateur Extra licenses. Hill hopes to offer more hands-on classes in the future, and he's planning a Fox Hunt for the near future, as additional hands-on training. -- Thanks to NAWCWD and Public Affairs Officer Kimberly Brown; some information from C4ISRNET https://www.c4isrnet.com/electronic-warfare/2019/02/06/can-learning-ham-radio-make-for-better-engineers-and-software-developers/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%202.7&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Daily%20Brief

Source:

The ARRL Letter

Member Comments:
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US Navy Explores Amateur Radio as a Training Adjunct:  
by KM6DLI on February 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea to teach fundamental RF concepts and more.
 
US Navy Explores Amateur Radio as a Training Adjunct:  
by N7LJC on February 18, 2019 Mail this to a friend!
I got a Technician license when I was on active duty with the Coast Guard in the early 90s – for no particular reason. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that an inexpensive 2-meter 3-element beam could be easily modified to our VHF working frequencies. Response teams could set it up on their trailer, point it towards one of our two high sites, and greatly improve communications back to the office in an RF heavy, urban environment.

At my next assignment I was building person-portable, deployable multi-band communications packages. My “partner-in-crime” (partner-in-RF?) was a civilian employee who was also a Ham. As we built out the packages, we ended up with a mix of military gear, commercial VHF equipment, and some stuff that is normally considered “Ham” gear.

With VHF equipment there is a wealth of practical information floating around the Ham community. Almost any Ham would have felt comfortable setting up shop at a deployed location with a bag full of commercial/ham antenna mounts, base-loads, and uncut whips; SWR meters and antenna analyzers from the Ham world; and bolt cutters and metal files from the federal stock system.

Collective Ham HF experiences helped us when searching through National Stock Numbers and Jane’s Military Communications (known to us as “Jane’s Fighting Radios”). It was surprising how much useful equipment was already in the stock system, but which was not commonly used in our traditional Coast Guard/Navy communications.

Our military field exercises had a certain “Field Day” flavor – at least for the communicators. Our reservists learned how to set up a command post, cut and tune antennas, erect multi-section portable masts, lay out and keep track of the coax runs, get the power sorted, attach connectors to coax (in conditions other than the bench in the ET shop), set up one or two repeaters and tune the cavities, and learn that I wasn’t ticked off when wind gusts knocked down one of our tubular masts and bent up a couple of its sections (the stakes in the kit were too short, but we soon found the NSN for much longer stakes – exercises are about learning).

You certainly can’t require that employees get an amateur license, and you can’t mix amateur license communications with work done “on the clock” (MARS is a whole ‘nuther thing), but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that knowledge and experience can be transferred – both ways.
 
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