NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — In a significant step toward shaping the future of naval aviation, 39 logistics management specialists celebrated their graduation from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Navy Acquisition Development Program (NADP) on Sept. 13 at the University System of Maryland in California, Maryland.
Ann Wood, acting Sustainment Group director, highlighted the graduates’ perseverance, especially as most completed the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wood encouraged the graduates to leverage their experience in the program for future challenges in both personal and professional spheres.
“When I was an NADP graduate, naval aviation was transitioning the F/A-18 Super Hornet and fielding the V-22 Osprey,” Wood said. “You are entering a time when naval aviation is fielding the 5th Generation Joint Strike Fighter and other weapons systems. During your careers, we will design, develop and build 6th generation aircraft, hypersonic weapons, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.”
Wood also underscored the vital role the graduates will play in designing systems to support 6th, 7th, and 8th generation weaponry while also sustaining legacy systems like the CH-53K and KC-130.
Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs Rear Adm. John Lemmon, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Executive Director Stephen Cricchi, and Director of Maintenance for Naval Aviation, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers John Grabenstein also spoke at the graduation ceremony.
“You have a network of support all around you. It’s important for you to reach out for guidance,” Lemmon stated, emphasizing the collaborative nature of problem-solving in the naval field.
“Graduates like you will be leading NAVAIR,” Cricchi noted, encouraging graduates to be proactive. “Don’t be a spectator on the sidelines. Be bold and ask questions to inform yourselves so you can drive outcomes more effectively.”
Grabenstein called on the graduates to embrace lifelong learning and to value everyone’s perspective in problem-solving. He advised them to take advantage of other formal training programs the Navy offers.
All four speakers stressed the importance of mentoring and network-building for career development. “Find a mentor and be one,” Cricchi said, emphasizing the significance of networking in problem-solving.
The emphasis on mentorship resonated with graduate Michelle Gaskin, who is assigned to Accountable Property System of Record IPT Support with the Sustainment Group’s Command Property Office, Policy Branch. She revealed how mentorship had played a key role in her own career progression.
Sarah Musick, deputy assistant program manager for Egypt and Taiwan at E-2/C-2 Airborne Command and Control Systems Program Office, said the NADP taught her valuable lessons. She advised future participants to pay attention and ask questions to understand the program’s impact better.
James-Michael Vinson Smith, NAVAIR Additive Manufacturing DAPML, also advised future participants to cultivate an inquisitive mind while keeping their focus on the broader mission of naval aviation.
NADP is a key program that grooms future Department of the Navy leadership in finance, contracting, logistics, science, and engineering. The program runs for up to three years and is also open to current civilian employees as associates in its professional development track.