NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– Ms. Beth Tobler is the 2021 recipient of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) (ASN (RD&A)) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Engineers of the Year Award. Ms. Tobler was recognized in a virtual ceremony on June 25.
“We have a great team at PMA-274 and I am very honored to be singled out for an award,” said Beth Tobler. “I was completely surprised by the nomination!”
The ASN (RD&A) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers Award recognizes and acknowledges the Department of the Navy’s (DON) most exceptional scientists and engineers. This annual award is given to those who have clearly demonstrated superior accomplishments during the prior year of technical excellence and benefiting the DON or the Department of Defense, and / or national defense.
“Beth consistently leads by example and is committed to this program’s success,” said Col. Eric Ropella, PMA-274 presidential helicopters program manager. “Her accomplishments towards the aircraft’s software and airworthiness were paramount in ensuring the presidential no-fail mission stays that way. Beth is very deserving of this award.”
Tobler’s efforts were instrumental to the program’s developmental and operational test activities namely in achieving interim flight clearances (IFC) for the VH-92A®. As an FAA fully-certified military-public-use-aircraft, the VH-92A is unique to NAVAIR and as such the certification process requires vetting and approval from many organizations: the Original Equipment Manufacture’s (OEM) Organizational Designation Authorization (ODA), the FAA Military Certification Office (MCO), and NAVAIR; a process which can take six to 12 months and an IFC three to four weeks. By developing and implementing a set of interfaces and process, Tobler was able to complete nearly 90 percent of the IFCs in less than five days. In 2020 alone she accomplished 35 ODA/NAVAIR IFCs.
This effort, along with many others outlined in her award write up, saved the program over 18 months of schedule.
“My biggest achievement on this project was using systems engineering processes to align our team of expert engineers in order to document a new way to expedite airworthiness for rapid software updates,” Tobler explained. “I coordinated with both NAVAIR experts and OEM FAA experts to define appropriate artifacts for IFCs and created rapid processes to support test activities for deficiency mitigations in near real time.”
The selection process is highly competitive for DON and DOD awards. Each submission needs to impressively demonstrate high levels of professionalism and scientific or engineering achievement. In addition, the awardee’s contributions must be significant to the DON.
“I appreciate the wonderful teaming dynamic of PMA-274 and decision point empowerment from leadership to explore alternative ways of getting things accomplished independently,” added Tobler. “I look forward to continued progress with our team.”
Tobler is currently the Deputy Assistant Program Manager for Systems Engineering, also known as “Deputy Class Desk”, for PMA-274.
PMA-274 is the presidential helicopters program office managing all in-service aircraft and the development of the VH-92A helicopter. PMA-274 expeditiously provides safe, reliable, secure, affordable aircraft and support to Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1).