By Jennifer Thibault | Joint Task Force-Space Defense Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Air Force named Maj. David Archer, Joint Task Force-Space Defense Capabilities and Integration lead, the 2020 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Award winner for the mid-career military category.
Archer, a Dayton, Ohio native, served with the National Reconnaissance Office when he was nominated for the award. In that position, he led 250 government and contractor team members building a state of the art mission payload.
“My engineering degrees armed me with the ability to deal with problems across multiple engineering disciplines helping to lead the team through the critical design phase which finalized the payload design for production,” Archer said. “Along with my outstanding team, we solved engineering issues with composites, micro-electronics, structural design, electromagnetics, optics and systems engineering. Delivery of this mission payload is critical to the fielding of a major intelligence capability which will provide 24/7 assured imagery for combatant commanders across all stages of conflict.”
Despite appreciating the challenge of his NRO work, Archer was surprised by the award.
“I am thankful. These are so competitive and I’m proud to share this with my family who has always been so supportive of me throughout my career and especially my daughter who is very interested in science, engineering and math,” he said.
Like Archer’s 8-year-old daughter, his STEM focus started at a young age when he started tinkering with electronics, building antennas and working for his father’s commercial communication business — think two-way radios and such.
“I grew up with it all around me, it was a natural interest,” said Archer.
Archer took his STEM interest to the U.S. Air Force Academy, figuring he’d enjoy designing and building aircraft weapons systems, not knowing at his commission in 2008, he’d also be instrumental in building systems that orbit the Earth.
“The Academy was very challenging. The combination of academics with physical and military training filled my time and attention,” he said. “STEM degrees are challenging so I always recommend to people they need to find an area they are passionate about otherwise it will be that much harder.”
Archer’s time with the NRO coupled with his STEM passion prepared the developmental engineering officer for his current position with the JTF-SD.
“I have worked in multiple program offices, so I can speak the language, I understand their objectives and I can translate that for our operators here,” he said. “It’s the same type of job but now I am on the other side of the fence, now I’m working the user/operator needs.”
His leaders appreciate his experience as well.
“Major Archer is our cornerstone for protect and defend capability on-boarding and integration at JTF-SD,” said his supervisor Lt. Col. Derek Reimer, Capabilities and Resource Integration director. “His program office experience, technical expertise and leadership ability are the perfect combination for this extremely challenging job. I was not surprised at all to hear he won this Air Force-level recognition. He has been hitting it out of the park since day one.”
Archer appreciates the opportunity to apply his education on a daily basis.
“We get to manage systems to build a better future,” Archer said. “We look at how to integrate new systems and figure out what our operators on the operations floor need to support the current and future space defense mission.”
The office of the Department of the Air Force Chief Scientist and Deputy Assistant Secretary Science, Technology and Engineering announced the winners of the awards in early March, which included a list of 17 other individual and four team awards.
Individual winners receive a trophy honoring contributions to the Department of the Air Force, a certificate, a three-day pass or time off award for military and civilians respectively, and may wear the Department of the Air Force Recognition Ribbon for military members or Lapel Pin for civilians.