Navy employee named Engineer of the Year

Writer: Miriam U. Rodriguez
Editor, White Sands Missile Ranger

Salvador L. Rodriguez, manager of the Systems Test Section with the Navy detachment at WSMR, was named Engineer of the Year at an awards ceremony Feb. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Rodriguez, an engineer with the WSMR Detachment of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division, was named Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Naval Engineers, Channel Islands Section. Rodriguez has been a part of over 2,000 live fire events and has conducted test and evaluation operations on multiple test ranges and facilities on behalf of the U.S. Navy.

“This acknowledgement is a reflection of the support group I have access to and speaks volumes of the talented individuals I work with,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the test events he has been involved in often takes the work of a lot of good people who are crazy enough to believe they can accomplish things that other folks would not even try.

He thanked upper management for trusting him to do his job and thanked the WSMR support staff for their dedication, to include: the Navy detachment at WSMR, Range Operations, Transportation, NEWTEC, Communications, Security, Army Mag, and the 46 Test Group. “They have definitely played a key role to the accolades I have been fortunate to receive over the years,” he said.

Rodriguez also thanked his wife and children for supporting him in his work efforts, which have required many long hours at work and time away from home. “I thank God for my wife and kids; their support in my endeavors is the key to any accomplishments I have or will receive,” he said.

Among his many accomplishments, Rodriguez has been instrumental in the Airborne Laser program. “It was extremely rewarding to be a part of the Airborne Laser program’s historic event on Feb. 4, when ABL shot down one of our targets with a High Power Laser for the first recorded ballistic target shoot down. For the past 14 years I have been a part of this project and it was great to be part of such a revolutionary and historic event where technology made such a leap forward.”

As a senior flight test engineer, Rodriguez fills the role of mission test director/test conductor and test manager.

A Navy employee since 2004, his test and evaluation work includes High Energy Laser Weapon Systems, Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground Weapon Systems, Theater Ballistic Missile Target Systems, the Navy Extended Range Munitions Efforts and Standard Missile, and the Hypersonic flight test in the Mach regime of the Mach 6-to-10 in support of the Joint Air Force, NASA and Australia Programs.

Rodriguez earned a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from San Diego State University. He is a member of the DoD Acquisition Corps, Level III certified in test and evaluation, and laser safety officer certified level 1 and 2.

His awards and recognition include: Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Letter of Commendation, Engineer and Manager of the Year 46TH Test Wing, Eglin, Air Force Base, Engineer and Manager of the Year 46TH Test Group, Holloman, Air Force Base, and Company Grade Officer of the Year 46TH Test Group, Holloman Air Force Base.

Rodriguez came to WSMR in 1996 as a U.S. Air Force officer assigned to the Deputy for the Air Force.

In 1999 he transitioned from active duty to the Air Force Reserves. As a reservist he was assigned to the ABL systems program office test division. He was employed by the Deputy for the Air Force as a civilian. In 2002, he was promoted to Director of Test Operations for the 46 Test Group Deputy for the Air Force at WSMR, where he was selected to be part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Directed Energy Test and Evaluation Capability Tri-Service tiger team to help in the identification of range instrumentation shortfalls within DoD in support of Directed Energy Weapons Systems such as High Energy Laser and high power microwaves. His ideas in business development for the Air Force Detachment at WSMR led to a growth from 6 to 30 plus active weapon system programs and a test budget from $6 million to $36 million.

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