The chapter used the occasion of its September luncheon to announce the beginning of its Scholarship Foundation. Its scholarship funds have grown slowly since the chapter was restarted six years ago. This summer, due to a generous gift by a corporate sponsor, the fund could grow from $5,000 to $40,000 for 2013. Fernando Galavitz, the chief executive officer of Centec Group of Falls Church, Virginia, pledged a generous gift, plus a challenge of matching funds against those contributed by Huntsville area corporate sponsors and individuals. The chapter's scholarship chair, Rick Tuggle of People-Tec, briefed the new Scholarship Foundation to the luncheon attendees. The core will consist of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholarships of $5,000 to each of four local colleges and universities in engineering, robotics, computer science and network engineering. Tuggle, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama Huntsville, was also the recipient of an AFCEA scholarship in his undergraduate studies. The success of the scholarship program at Huntsville's sister chapter in Montgomery served as the catalyst for this effort.
In addition, the chapter was pleased to have guest speaker Mark Mitcham of the Harris Corporation discuss the Defense Departments's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) at the September luncheon. Harris is one of six companies who provide radio equipment to the Army. While the overall development of the system is behind schedule, the Army is considering the option of using commercial technologies already available such as the Android OS created and managed by Google to speed up the transition. The Army has seen the benefit of using developed radios that meet many of their requirements, Mitcham said. There will be very firm standards of interoperability. However, he said that the Defense Department recognized there are multiple ways to meet warfighter requirements. Although the program began with goals the leadership felt were attainable, the Defense Department soon discovered the costs were too high if all the initial capabilities were included. Mitcham also discussed the Army's plan to upgrade its satellite infrastructure to 64 kilobits per second (kbps) links from the much slower 16kbps links that are currently in use.