We have seen the Saul family at our monthly meetings on many occasions. While it is common to see wives trail in after the husbands, and sometimes husbands following wives in, it is rare for us to have the whole family come in. Robert, KK4MXU (or “dad” as Gavin might say), Gavin, KK4MXT, mom Kirsten & sister Katie all have been spotted at Buckhall VFD at one time or another. This is due in part to their affinity with the Ole Virginia Hams (Kristen ran the kids 4H event at our Hamfest for several years when we were still at the fairgrounds and is still is very active with the 4H.) and in part because Robert is an officer at the Buckhall VFD and they live just down the street from the fire hall.
So, the notion of Community Service runs in the family.
Well, Gavin is at Virginia Tech and has been selected to participate in the pilot Defense Civilian Training Corps program.
People might ask: What is the Defense Civilian Training Corps Virginia Tech?
Similar to the military ROTC program, the curriculum includes a summer internship component, and students joining in Fall 2024 and beyond will incur a service obligation with their scholarship. Upon graduation, DCTC Scholars will be placed in DoD labs or command organizations to begin their career in federal service.
Gavin, KK4MXT is part of Virginia Tech’s National Security Institute’s Space Domain Awareness Telescope program. He has been working with the team for almost two years and plans to continue working on the project over the next few years while he is pursuing his master’s degree
In part, they are developing custom image acquisition and tracking software created by the team that is used in the mount of the telescope system.
One milestone related to system reliability and safety was the capturing of November, 2022’s lunar eclipse imagery. However, the ultimate goal of the telescope is not astronomy, but to identify and track spacecraft.
The final step in moving the Virginia Tech National Security Institute’s latest telescope project forward was moving the telescope up to the roof.
After initial calibration, the custom software exceeded expectations. In addition to tracking the moon during the lunar eclipse, the team was able to successfully track multiple astronomical targets including Mars, the Orion Nebula, and Uranus.
Well done, team!
As the stated goal for DCTC Scholars is to be placed in organizations to begin their career in federal service, I’d say Gavin’s adventure is just beginning.
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