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CHIPS Articles: SSC Pacific engineer named Navy Lead Tester of the Year

SSC Pacific engineer named Navy Lead Tester of the Year
By Katherine Connor, SSC Pacific staff writer - April-June 2017
Development of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites, which provide increased communications and improved network connectivity to warfighters around the globe, began in 2004, with the first satellite launched into orbit on Feb. 24, 2012. The fifth and final satellite in the MUOS constellation was launched June 24, 2016. Paul Valdez was with the program for all 12 years, every step of the way.

Valdez, an engineer at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) supporting MUOS, was recognized by the Department of the Navy as the 2016 Test and Evaluation Lead Tester of the Year for his role in ensuring the satellite constellation’s success. MUOS is the Department of Defense’s next generation Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite communications (SATCOM) system that provides the joint warfighter with global modern mobile communications.

Valdez distinguished himself as the assistant program manager, Test and Evaluation, and chief developmental tester for the Program Executive Office, Space Systems Navy Communications Program Office (PMW 146). As the program manager's trusted agent, he ensured his team of 20 government and contractor testers and external stakeholders fully understood program office requirements, test strategies, and verification and validation plans for MUOS.

“He successfully led this highly visible and critical program through a major developmental test event and preparations for Multi-service Operational Test and Evaluation (MOT&E)-2,” said Rear Adm. David Lewis, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Command at the time of the award announcement. “He directed all aspects of test planning, coordination, execution and reporting. Overcoming numerous technical, schedule, coordination, and facilities challenges, his efforts ensured successful completion of test objectives that provided key data on MUOS technical maturity in support of certification of readiness for MOT&E-2.”

Valdez received the award June 20 from Rick Quade, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.

A nuclear submariner, Valdez earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas after his time serving in the Navy, and joined SSC Pacific in 2002 as an engineer. He has contributed to MUOS since 2004, ensuring test program concerns and issues are promptly and efficiently addressed. This includes routine close coordination with the director of Operational Test and Evaluation; director of Development Test and Evaluation; commander of Operational Test and Evaluation Force; Army and Air Force Test and Evaluation Commands, as well as other agencies.

“Our primary role as testers is to provide accurate and timely data and system information to program engineers and leadership so that they can make informed acquisition decisions,” Valdez said. “Test data is also used to evaluate a system’s effectiveness and suitability prior to operational testing and the transition to operations by the fleet and warfighters. In the case of MUOS, it required testing alongside Army soldiers in a variety of environmental conditions and locations to ensure the system performance was adequate for military operations.”

Though all five satellites have been launched, Valdez will continue his work on MUOS, ensuring any enhancements or updates are integrated successfully and follow-on testing is successfully completed.

Paul Valdez receives the Department of the Navy 2016 Test and Evaluation Lead Tester of the Year award from Rick Quade, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.
Paul Valdez receives the Department of the Navy 2016 Test and Evaluation Lead Tester of the Year award from Rick Quade, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.
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