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When the crowd arose for the national anthem at the March 22 Utah Grizzlies hockey game, the spotlight focused on the ceiling as two Utah National Guard members rappelled from the rafters carrying the American flag. This dramatic introduction kicked off Military Appreciation Night, which ATK sponsored in partnership with the Grizzlies.

“It was an honor to work with the Utah Grizzlies to recognize and show support for the men and women who are serving, or who have served in our military, including our employees,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, ATK Aerospace Group, Defense and Commercial division.

Thanks to ATK’s sponsorship, more than 1,500 active military and their families attended the game and watched the Grizzlies defeat the Idaho Steelheads 4-1. The event was attended by more than 9,000 fans—including approximately 800 ATK employees and family members—making it the second-highest attended game of the season.

Throughout the evening ATK and the Grizzlies took every opportunity to honor members of our nation’s military and their families. The Grizzlies wore customized military-themed camouflage jerseys displaying the ATK logo and name plates of season ticket holders who are also military veterans. Charlie Precourt, four-time NASA astronaut, and vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Launch division, made a guest appearance on the ice. Precourt, who played hockey for the U.S. Air Force academy, skated around the rink with the team before the game.

The game was also attended by ATK’s executive management team, including Mark DeYoung, company president and CEO, Blake Larson, Aerospace Group president, Lehr and Precourt. A video message from DeYoung played for the crowd.

Special events during the game included a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the service of our country; recognition of U.S. Army Specialist James McCloy, who had just recently received the Purple Heart award; induction of Utah’s newest Air Force recruits, and recognition of the season ticket holders who are veterans. ATK camo T-shirts were also given to employees and thrown out to the crowd during the game.

“Military Night this year was one of the best nights that we’ve had in the last 10 years at a Utah Grizzlies game,” said Jared Youngman, vice president, Utah Grizzlies. “It had a lot to do with the partnership with ATK and the support from the military community. I’m still getting e-mails from fans who attended to congratulate us on the way we presented the whole night, from the opening of the doors to the jersey auction that had everyone in tears.”

The culmination of the night was an auction of the team’s military-themed camouflage jerseys that raised $16,250 for the Fisher House to provide housing for wounded servicemen and their families.

In one email, the Grizzlies received a special thank you from Craig Vielstich, father of U.S. Marine Private First Class Josh Vielstich who was recognized that night. Josh was an avid hockey player in high school and joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2009 and served with honor. In 2012 Josh was killed in a motorcycle accident as he was returning to base. His father stated that it was an honor to see his son’s name on the ice. Josh’s family was amazed and in tears as his jersey auctioned for $850. The buyer then presented the jersey to Josh’s Dad.

“Thank you very much,” said Craig Vielstich. “I truly believe that Josh was there Saturday evening and cheering from above. Thank you for the honor you showed my son.”


Stew Kern, ATK mechanical design engineer, demonstrated mechanical and materials testing using a sugar-cube drop test to fifth graders from Monroe Elementary School.

Armament Systems division concluded its 2014 Engineer Week with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) event at the Plymouth location hosting fifth graders from Monroe Elementary school located in nearby Brooklyn Park, Minn. The visit was led by Engineer Week Chair, Kristen Gerzina, with the help of 20 volunteers.

The Engineering Week mission: to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration and volunteerism. This outreach and volunteerism is engrained in engineers. The students went through four engineering demonstrations. “The sugar-cube drop demonstrated mechanical and materials testing, or the concept of protecting your cell phone when it is dropped. Surprisingly, programming circuit boards is really something the kids can relate to, and they always enjoy picking up and looking at the different components on the circuit card. The infrared and high-speed camera demonstrations were designed with kids in mind. While we use these two technologies in a lab to gather data, in this set up, we have fun with them,” said Gerzina. “Each of the demos is a crowd pleaser.”  

Gerzina volunteers with many organizations, including American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Institute of Navigation (ION), Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and others. It’s this spirit of volunteerism that underscore’s ATK’s commitment to promoting STEM in local schools.

Ask any engineer when they knew they wanted to be an engineer and the story will include a specific event that they will gladly share. It’s this type of moment Gerzina hopes one of the students from Monroe Elementary will have during their visit. “You never know what a kid will take to,” said Gerzina. “That, combined with encouragement, will go a long way.”

Armament Systems engineers are taking their STEM show on the road next month, representing ATK with a demonstration on how infrared camera technology is used in the workplace during the USA Science and Engineering Festival, April 24-27, in Washington, D.C.

ATK focuses on fostering student interest and achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). ATK’s partnerships encompass local, regional and national initiatives to engage students in becoming scientifically literate and prepared to enter the workforce as leaders and problem-solvers. For more information on ATK’s STEM efforts, visit or follow ATK on Facebook at or on Twitter @ATK.

Lab technicians, Kimberly Romero and Mike Tripp, are pictured with a process improvement they worked to develop that improves safety and increases efficiency.

Raw composite materials are required to meet not only the strictest of ATK quali­ty standards, but also those of ATK’s military, commercial and launch customers. To ensure those standards are met or exceeded, Aerospace Structures Division relies on the Composite Testing Lab in Clearfield, Utah.

The lab functions as the gatekeeper for raw composite materials before release to the pro­duction floor. Technicians test raw and cured composite materials for use at both the Clearfield and Iuka, Miss. facilities.

The process begins in Europe where raw composite materials are made by supplier Hexel. When material shipments arrive in Clearfield, the lab is supplied with randomly selected samples. The samples are laid into panels, cured and divided into test coupons measuring a half-inch-wide by 10 inches long. The coupons are then pull-tested to the break­ing point to gauge material strength.

At the point of explosion or failure, maxi­mum pressure data, measured in pounds per square inch (psi) is compared to both ATK standards and those of respective ATK cus­tomers to determine if the composite material is within specifications. The average maxi­mum tensile strength is 10,000 lbs. force. If the maximum psi is below specification, the composite material shipment is rejected.

One undesired byproduct of this critical testing has been graphite splinters, carbon dust and composite slivers and shards that become scattered across the lab. While the machinery has a shield to protect an operator wearing per­sonal safety equip­ment, and there have been no injuries, there was no protec­tion to property. Composite Test Lab Supervisor, Jim Poulsen, described it as one of those so-called “dirty” jobs, requiring many hours to thoroughly clean the lab of composite debris and dust fol­lowing tests.

Identifying both the flying debris and cleanup time as potential safety hazards and waste, lab tech­nicians Mike Tripp, Kimberly Romero and Willy Phillips approached Poulsen and proposed a solution. With approval, the team demonstrated initiative and designed a Plexiglas box to house the machine test area and contain the flying fragments. Their hous­ing design included a vacuum port to collect the microscopic dust and debris, and contain it in a collection container. Once the box design was approved, construction was awarded to a local vendor.

“This is an excellent example of empowered employees taking the initiative to improve their work process and environment,” said Poulsen.

Now operational, the box is a deterrent from flying debris, slivers and shards. The vacuum is collecting nearly all of the graphite and car­bon dust, and cleanup at the end of the day amounts to simply emptying the collection container. Aerospace Structures lab techni­cians are not only ensuring the utmost quality composite products for ATK and its customers, but increasing both safety and efficiency.

Seventy employees representing eight teams and two individuals were honored at the Propulsion Systems Achievement Awards fall recognition event Nov. 21, 2013, at the ATK Conference Center in Ogden Canyon, Utah.

“These events are a great reminder of how exciting it is to be in aerospace,” said award recipient, MaKayla McElroy, who works in Systems and Support Engineering. “It was an honor to be nominated among so many of my peers, and also rewarding to get the opportunity to hear about all of the other amazing achievements that have happened over the past few months.”

One of the largest team awards to date was the 18-member team that won the Air Launch System contract.

“It is nice to be recognized by management for the effort our team put forth in securing this new contract,” said Curtis Anderson, Commercial Program business manager. “It is also nice to see the other accomplishments within the group and be reminded of all the fantastic people that we have working at ATK.”

Leadership Excellence awards were presented to Jon Jarrett and Craig Rasmussen. Jarret was nominated by his department for working tirelessly for ways to establish new lean processes and tools that improve the business by driving out waste. He was specifically recognized for forging partnerships across ATK, NASA engineering and IT organizations. Rasmussen was recognized for his relentless leadership and focus on adherence to procedures to ensure the safety of his personnel and the quality of the inspections during rocket motor nondestructive testing operations. His positive attitude was cited as instilling a “can do” environment in his shop and setting a tone of excellence in the Bacchus nondestructive test organization.

The Propulsion Systems Achievement Award is different from other rewards and recognition programs at ATK in that any employee can nominate someone for an award. More than a hundred employees were nominated in the third quarter.

March 27 is the 10-year anniversary of NASA’s successful Mach 7 Hyper-X flight. During this flight, the 12-foot-long X-43A research vehicle set a world speed record for an “air breathing” (jet-powered) vehicle. ATK provided the propulsion system, which included the Mach 7 airframe integrated scramjet engine and hydrogen fuel delivery system, vehicle construction and integration and launch support at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. In addition, ATK performed multiple development and risk reduction tests for the X-43A vehicle at its test facility in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

ATK also provided the Orion 50S motors for the modified Orbital Pegasus® rockets that began the X-43A vehicle’s acceleration. In order to meet the X-43A’s thrust profile, the motors were modified by removing some of the cast propellant. ATK manufactured the Orion cases and raceways in Clearfield, Utah; cast and finished the motors in Magna, Utah; and machined the propellant in Promontory, Utah.

On March 27, 2004 the X-43A flew at nearly Mach 7, or 5,000 mph, easily surpassing the previous record set by the military’s retired SR-71 Blackbird high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, which flew at about Mach 3.2. Eight months later the X-43A broke its own record when it flew at nearly Mach 10, or 7,000 mph. This was the final flight test of the Hyper-X Program.

View a newscast about the March 27 fight on YouTube

Read more about both flights on NASA’s website

Pictured L to R: Stephen Spalinger, ATK quality engineer; Yvonne Oleson, ATK contract manager; Patrick Haynes, ATK manufacturing engineer; Darla Cannon, ATK program manager; Brian Knight, GPS III business lead, U.S. Air Force; Fernando Guidone, LMSSC, GPS III bus structure lead; Mark Woempner, LMSSC, GPS III vehicle integration manager.

The GPS III Solar Array Hinge team at ATK’s Goleta, Calif., facility was recently honored by the Lockheed Martin and Space Systems Company (LMSSC) Global Positioning System (GPS) program team along with their customer from the U.S. Air Force. ATK received a plaque in recognition of outstanding collaboration and work in support of a successful delivery of the HA-180 Hinges Space Vehicle 01 and 02.

LMSSC and the Air Force representative shared some exciting videos about the future of GPS III. Since its development in the 1960s, GPS satellite navigation has become an essential tool for everything from military operations to the family road trip. GPS is found everywhere. What people may not realize is that every GPS device determines its precise position by receiving signals from a constellation of 24 or more satellites orbiting the earth 20,000 kilometers away. Without satellites, there would be no GPS devices.

With GPS III, the next generation of GPS satellites being designed and built by Lockheed Martin, signals will be three times more accurate than the current generation. What does that mean for users? Better accuracy anywhere in the world. For military users, the signals will be up to eight times more powerful, improving jamming resistance and availability for critical missions worldwide. The new satellites will also be compatible with international global navigation satellite systems, which will allow users the ability to receive signals from any country’s satellites.

ATK Space Components division is looking forward to continuing to deliver solar array hinges for the GPS III Program through 2016 and beyond.

Jay Tibbets, ATK senior vice president and president ATK Sporting Group, has been reelected to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Board of Governors for three more years. Mr. Tibbets has been on the board for over a year, and serves on both the Finance and Government Affairs committees. The NSSF is the national trade association for America’s firearms industry; their mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports.

The NSSF has more than 10,000 members, including manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers. Since 1961, the NSSF has strived to promote firearm safety education across the United States through a variety of outreach programs. This includes Project ChildSafe, a nationwide program that promotes safe firearms handling and storage practices among all firearm owners through the distribution of safety education messages and free firearmsafety kits.  

For more information on the NSSF, visit

ATK Propulsion Systems has pledged $30,000 toward the new Brigham City campus for Utah State University (USU). The donation is another way for ATK to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and demonstrates the company’s role as an active and contributing business partner within the communities where we live and work.

Land for the new USU Brigham City campus has already been committed, and the project commenced with the demolition and removal of the old Kmart building last summer.

The original Brigham City campus has grown from its initial 30 students in 1983 to more than 1,000 students in 2012, and enrollment continues to climb. Currently housed in an older retail facility, the campus has exceeded full capacity, necessitating a new facility.

The Utah State Legislature is expected to approve the $7.5 million request to complete the project during the current legislative session. The USU advisory board has been actively working with the Brigham City Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to raise at least $300,000 from the community. With the $30,000 donation, ATK serves as a leading business donor to the project. USU has generously offered future use of the new facilities to ATK for various business functions as a result of our contribution.

Kathy Philpot, Propulsion Systems Process Engineering director, who serves as an advisory board member to the USU Brigham City campus encourages ATK Aggie alumni and local community members to take advantage of the ATK matching gift program and consider contributing to this worthy, local project.

Dave Sebahar, vice president of Integrated Operations for Propulsion Systems, presented a check to Dr. Tom Lee, Dean of the USU Brigham City Campus, at the monthly Advisory Board meeting in November 2013. During the check presentation, Sebahar stated, “ATK is pleased to participate in this very important project. Serving the communities in which we live and supporting STEM initiatives is a priority for us at ATK.”

ATK’s vision includes having a robust and diverse STEM capability in our communities, where employees are prepared to join the company in achieving the company’s strategy of innovation, execution excellence and market leadership. STEM education is a priority for USU, and the university is prepared to partner with ATK for local school and student involvement. USU has increasingly provided access to education throughout the state of Utah and in rural areas through extension programs, distance and online education, and regional campuses.


On National Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (Feb. 20), ATK Missile Defense & Controls, along with the AIAA Delaware Section, celebrated by hosting nine eighth grade girls and two of their educators onsite in Elkton, Md., for the day. The group, from Bohemia Manor Middle School, received a completely unique tour from any other student group brought to the plant.

The girls started out their day with a safety briefing and an introduction to ATK and rocket motors by their hosts for the day, structural analyst Breanne Sutton and tooling engineer Elishabet Lato. The students then tried out their hands-on engineering skills by helping project engineers Jami Ward-Porter and Erika Conly assembly a valve. Next the girls visited drafter Dessi Whitehurst, who showed the girls how 3D computer models are made, showing them the very valve that they had just assembled. Next, the girls visited structural analyst Bridget Sanders, who explained how engineering designs are evaluated and analyzed. Finally the girls heard from Standard Missile-3 Chief Engineer Sheri Hepler, who gave the girls valuable advice for pursuing a career in engineering.

After all they had learned, it was time for the girls to put their engineering design skills to the test by constructing and launching their own straw rockets. Site Manager Bob Daidone came by to visit during the straw rocket construction and gave the girls a few pointers. The day wrapped up with videos of tests and simulations of programs worked at ATK and a pizza party with the engineers.

Employees at ATK’s Commerce facility in southeast Los Angeles, Calif., recently commemorated 50 years of operations. The Commerce site is known throughout the industry for pressure vessel design and manufacturing capabilities. ATK’s Commerce team provides complete tank design, analysis, engineering, manufacturing and testing, as well as low-gravity and zero-g fluid dynamics analysis, diaphragm molding and diaphragm testing, Propellant Management Device bubble-point testing, solution heat treat, quench and static load testing. The Commerce site operates within Aerospace Group’s Space Components Division under the leadership of David Shanahan, vice president and general manger.