AIR FORCE WRIGHT-PATTERSON, Ohio – Although Leon Plouviez, a graduate scientist from the United Kingdom recently completed a six-month assignment at AFRL, he continued to work closely with his technical sponsor, Dr. Christopher Schrock, an engineer at the Aerospace Systems Directorate.
“The work did not stop after six months,” Plouviez said. “That will continue.”
Plouviez, who participated in the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program, remains committed to publishing his first technical paper based on the work he began at AFRL.
ESEP, the Department of Defense initiative, assigns tasks to “military and civil engineers in allied and friendly government organizations and reciprocal assignments between foreign engineers and scientists at U.S. defense companies.”
Although Plouviez returned to work for the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (ETC), Schrock helped him to complete the technical paper, because “Leon’s work deserves publication.”
Schrock also hopes to work with him on future projects. The couple, who are bound by the same background in mathematics, will also look for other opportunities for collaboration between AFRL and their fellow students, etc.
Within two weeks of joining the AFRL team, Plouviez submitted an abstract for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation Forum. In the end, AIAA chose its submission and added its work to the conference agenda.
“With everything happening in the world today, this work has given us something that binds us together,” Schrock stressed.
Plouviez agrees. “International cooperation is very important,” he said. “We can solve it [more] through increased collaboration. “
Dstl, which is the UK partner for AFRL, serves the UK Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces. During his time at AFRL, Plouviez worked at the AFRL Computational Science Center, developing algorithms and techniques to enable analysis of aircraft computational fluid dynamics. Specifically, he focused on computationally intensive areas of high-level methods for aircraft aerodynamics.
According to the ESEP website, the program aims to “promote international cooperation in military research, development and acquisition through the exchange of defense scientists and engineers.” The AFRL International Partnership Office and the Air Force Scientific Research Office coordinate work placements in 16 countries.
Plouviez’s time in the US is part of the Dstl postgraduate development program, a two-year career rotation with four-month, six-month placements. While three of them are in Dstl, he chose AFRL for his external assignments.
Plouviez pursues U.S. opportunities to work in a larger organization and collaborate / network with other people in their fields.
“Leon’s resume and experience made him suitable for our group,” Schrock said.
“He is not just an engineer,” he added. “Plouviez has an extensive background in applied mathematics, which is very important to accelerate quickly and become an effective member of our team.”
Plouviez described his time with AFRL as an extraordinary statement that he was pleased to be able to discuss his work with colleagues who were facing similar technical problems.
“This [open discussion] is something we don’t have in England [at Dstl] because only one or two people work in the same field, “he said. “We are very slim.”
“Together with the team and learn [from them] it has been very beneficial for me, “he added.
Plouviez’s assignment came from a meeting between AFRL Executive Director Jack Blackhurst and Dtl Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead, both of whom discussed future personnel exchanges.
AFRL chose Dr. Richard Beblo, a research engineer focused on the design and analysis of air vehicles, for a six-month assignment in the UK. While there, he joined the Aerospace Sciences Dstl team in the Platform Systems Division and worked on the high-speed missile program.
Beblo said he appreciated Dstl’s focus on technology integration and system development. He greatly enjoyed the experience of integrating war fighters with the military community, which he described was similar to the BLU Air Force trip.
During his six month stay, Beblo made three such trips. He toured aircraft carriers, observed Parliament and visited Southwick House, the place where allied leaders planned the Normandy Invasion during World World II.
Beblo, who enjoys assimilation into other cultures, shares similar sentiments with Plouviez and Schrock regarding international relations.
“Considering everything that happened today, the U.S. can’t do it alone,” Beblo said.
“If we agree to work together, share results and findings, then we can avoid duplication of efforts and achieve greater things,” he said
“In the end, we will become stronger.”
At present, 17 US Air Force military and civilians, including 12 from AFRL, work abroad as part of ESEP in Australia, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the midst of the COVID-19 situation, they will remain in their assigned countries.
“They did not have the option to return to the US early because the movement’s orders stopped,” said Jackie Sukup, AFRL ESEP program staff.
The 60-day measure, imposed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, applies to all Department of Defense in uniform and civilian personnel abroad. The order, which aims to prevent further spread of the virus, has suspended a civilian flight from Air Force citizens from Britain.
The trip is currently on hold until DOD lifts the travel ban, said Sukup.
Three foreign nationals from Germany, Japan and Korea work in various AFRL locations in the Directorate of Munitions, the Directorate of Materials and Manufacturing, and in the Human Performance Wing of 711.
For more information about the ESEP program, email Jackie Sukup at [email protected] or call (937) 656-9818.