Mentoring is a Joint (Stars) Venture

By Ken Fisher

Northrop Grumman is full of bright and talented employees, and there are many avenues an employee can take to participate in mentorship. However, nowhere is mentoring more prevalent, and more important, than on our programs. Mentor Keith M., a systems test engineer, and mentee Braden R., a systems engineer, talk about their experiences on the Joint STARS (Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) program in Melbourne, Fla.

Keith M., Systems Test Engineer:

Supporting the Joint STARS platform means constantly working to develop and innovate new capabilities for the warfighter. Mentoring employees is not just about assigning two people to work together, but to create a culture where knowledge is continually shared in a collaborative manner. The mentor program on Joint STARS is a means of passing on knowledge of C2/ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) dominance achieved for the last 30 years. It was a definite milestone in my career when I was capable and ready to transition from being a mentee to being part of tenured ranks as a mentor for the new professionals joining our program.

When new team members join the Joint STARS program, they are truly joining a team. From interns to experienced professionals, every employee is assigned a mentor, and I am now part of the team guiding them on their way to success.

I’m currently mentoring Braden R. — an enthusiastic and energetic learner — and transferring to him my experience on the Joint STARS team. In the year or so that Braden and I have been working together, it has been exciting to see him learn the system and tools on the program.

Braden R., Systems Engineer:

When I joined Joint STARS last year as part of a new career at Northrop Grumman, I joined a legacy — one that recently celebrated 30 years of battle space information dominance for decision superiority. Joint STARS team members take their jobs seriously. As such, the team is dedicated to mentoring employees of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.

My mentor, Keith M., and I were paired up to support the Data Fusion System (DFS) onboard the aircraft. Keith has a decade of Joint STARS program experience supporting multiple key systems. Keith and I were recently sent to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia to support initial ground and flight testing for our upcoming integrated release. It was early on in our baseline aircraft testing and we were encountering an issue with the onboard DFS system. Keith diagnosed the issues and came up with the steps to perform the repairs. He took the time to explain his analysis and the debugging.

We consulted the aircraft technical orders, and after reconfiguring and replacing some hardware, we had the system up and running. Keith’s actions that day kept us on schedule for successful completion of our portion of the testing. When the day of the flight came, I felt confident that I was ready.

New Joint STARS employees, as a team, attend what’s known as Joint STARS 101, a five-day, hands-on, lab-based course led by an aircraft system operations instructor. When it came time to run the flight cards for course credit, I was adequately prepared to use the system and execute the engineering test evaluation. Keith and the other mentors are always available to help ensure I understand the system capabilities. Their knowledge transfer process empowers and motivates me to dream up new capabilities for the system to support the warfighters into the future.

Watch My Mission, Our Mission is Joint STARS

Watch "My Mission, Our Mission is Joint STARS" featuring Kelly Sharp of Northrop Grumman

Mentoring relationships are prevalent important, on our programs, like Joint STARS mentioned in the article above.
Click here to see related videos about our Joint STARS program. Watch My Mission, Our Mission is Joint STARS