Integrating people, processes for program success

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COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center; assigned to the Joint Program Office for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support

POSITION: Chief integration engineer


DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in engineering

EDUCATION: M.S. in automotive engineering, Lawrence Technological University; B.S. in mechanical engineering, University of Michigan

AWARDS: David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award, 2009, 2013 and 2015

Integrating people, processes for program success

by Ms. Susan L. Follett

Considered the top team award in acquisition, DOD’s David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award recognizes groups and organizations that have demonstrated exemplary innovation using best practices to achieve excellence. It’s rare to receive more than one, rarer still to be in a program that’s twice honored. It’s even more uncommon to have three such certificates on your wall. Steven Schultz finds himself among that small number.

An engineer with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) for 18 years, Schultz was part of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) team that received the award in 2009, and part of Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) teams similarly honored in 2013 and 2015.

“Each of the David Packard Awards was truly unique,” said Schultz, chief integration engineer assigned to the Joint Program Office for JLTV (JPO JLTV), within the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support. “The M-ATV award stands out, as I was part of a leadership team that was addressing an urgent need to get a more mobile version of the MRAPs to the field quickly. It was clear from the beginning that the M-ATV vehicle was needed for a specific environment that required more mobility and just as much protection as the earlier MRAPs. The fact that the M-ATV is still seen as a great platform today is a proud moment of my career,” he said.

“The award for JLTV in 2013 was special, as the JLTV program really went through some significant changes at milestone B,” including leadership changes, budgetary ups and downs and a complete requirements and cost analysis, Schultz said. “Getting through milestone B required a complete team effort to prepare and brief the results of those changes to senior Army and Marine Corps officials, all the way up to the defense acquisition executive leadership. Working on a cross-functional team to accomplish milestone B approval created professional relationships that I still rely on.”

Schultz’s title as chief integration officer relates not so much to the systems on the vehicle as to the people who put those systems together. “My official title really goes toward managing the integration of the people and processes between TARDEC and JPO JLTV,” he said, noting that many of the people on the team are from TARDEC and that JPO JLTV relies on TARDEC for many of the engineering tasks. “I’m the conduit to ensure that the people have a connection back to their home organization and to identify additional resources that would help the JPO in day-to-day tasks, as well as helping to see that those tasks get delivered on time and within budget.”

Schultz has been in acquisition since he was in college, getting his start through a TARDEC internship program. His first assignment was in modeling and simulation. “I was always interested in computers and analysis, and working with models to generate vehicle dynamics data gave me my first exposure to military requirements, meeting performance benchmarks and the associated verification methods.” From there, he worked in science and technology programs with many program management offices; he has supported the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, the Stryker and the MRAP in some capacity over the course of his career.

He has been a part of the JLTV program since the technology development (TD) phase. “Seeing the design take shape from requirements—and being a part of a program that is seen as a model for acquisition—brings a sense of pride, and it has been very rewarding to be part of building the next truck to be fielded to the warfighter,” he said.

The JLTV has undergone a lot of changes between TD and low-rate initial production (LRIP), Schultz noted. JLTV was unique in that the program management office was able to evaluate competitive prototypes in TD and in the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, he explained. “In the TD phase, the program was really testing requirements compliance, and we learned some things that set thresholds for achievable requirements. In EMD, we saw a new set of contractors perform against that new set of requirements, and saw more technology trades come into play as the contractors tried to meet cost targets. For LRIP, the contract award went to one of our EMD contractors, who improved the design based on testing performed in EMD, improving durability and better positioning the vehicle for manufacturing and meeting the platform cost goals.”

Schultz noted that his work requires a great deal of hands-on engineering and problem-solving over a wide range of areas, something that often surprises those not familiar with his work. “I think typically there are engineers who are specialists in a single technology. Working in JPO JLTV, there are platformwide solutions needed across many of the subsystems involved, spanning the range from working with paint to more complex engines, for example.”

Working on a range of projects—whether assigned to do so or just volunteering—has served Schultz well over the course of his career. “One of the best pieces of advice I give to others is don’t wait for someone to give you permission to do something you want to do. Just start doing it. It is very rare anyone will tell you no.”

He knows whereof he speaks. “Early in my career in modeling and simulation, I often took the initiative to work with PMs to find out what problems they needed help with, rather than waiting for them to approach my team. This developed into many positive relationships based on addressing their needs, which often resulted in more opportunities for new projects,” he said.

That same mindset served as the impetus for him to get involved in new projects related to the JLTV, he said, “because I thought I could add value and maximize the chance for success.” JPO JLTV is currently performing laboratory durability testing, and Schultz used his leadership connections to ensure that the requisite agreements, funding and planning were in place for the testing. Additionally, he recently led a contract to develop a camouflage paint pattern for the JLTV. “We didn’t really have a true expert on paint, and based on my platform knowledge, I felt I could succeed in that task.”

His contributions haven’t gone unnoticed. Because of his ability to delve into engineering matters as well as his cross-organizational management experience, Schultz was selected to fill in as JPO JLTV engineering director when the previous director retired. “If you are committed and contributing, more opportunities will come your way and others will seek you out,” he said.

“Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-664-5635.

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