ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – An engineer from DEVCOM Analysis Center, known as DAC, has been recognized as the 2021 Army Government Civilian Tester of the Year by the National Defense Industrial Association, or NDIA.

John Valek, an engineer at DAC’s Kinetic Experimentation Branch, or KEB, is being awarded for his efforts as a top engineer in his field for 2021.

“John has an unmatched attention to detail and commitment that is reflected in all of his products,” says Fred Marsh, chief of the KEB. “Not only were John's 2021 accomplishments as an experimentation engineer exemplary, but it was his ability to seamlessly fill the void created upon the retirement of the branch’s senior engineer that proved invaluable to ensuring mission success.”

The NDIA Tester Awards are given annually to each of the leading individuals in the Military, Government Civilian, and Contractor categories within the field of testing and evaluation for each service.

When asked about why the work is important to him, Valek said there’s always value in the daily work, which normally includes system survivability and lethality demonstrations. “Showing that the system is survivable is the big deal for me,” Valek said. “[It] demonstrates that they do what they’re supposed to do, to ensure when analysis is performed to inform decision makers, we know we have the latest and greatest.”

Valek graduated in 2006 from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After receiving his Master of Science in mechanical engineering while working as a civilian for Army Research Lab, he went on to lend his expertise and passion to DAC’s mission to inform Army modernization and readiness decisions with objective analysis enabled through tools and data.

“I was always taking stuff apart and putting it back together when growing up,” Valek said. “I have always been interested in military history and enjoyed math and science. So, I kind of liked those fields, engineering was a natural choice as far as a major. When looking for employment and saw an opportunity here and saw what they did, I thought this was a natural fit.”

Reflecting on his favorite part of contributing his testing and evaluation aptitude to DAC, Valek believes that the tenacious team environment offers the utmost gratification while allowing for the best product to be delivered.

“None of this is done in a vacuum,” Valek said. “Yes, I am the lead, but I work with a diverse collection of individuals, engineers, mathematicians, statisticians, operations research analysts and engineering technicians. We go above and beyond to help each other out. That makes working here enjoyable and us a stronger team and for a stronger product that we deliver up the chain.”

The NDIA award ceremony was held in November 2022.