Kidner named Mentor of Year

Kidner named Mentor of YearBy AARON CRUTCHFIELD

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Dr. Curt Kidner was honored as Naval Air Systems Command’s Mentor of the Year at China Lake during a Jan. 28 ceremony broadcast to all NAVAIR sites.

Kidner was one of eight nominees at China Lake. There were a total of 76 nominees across NAVAIR, with one winner picked at each of the eight sites.

Kidner is a subject-matter expert in radio frequency, and has 34 years in the NAVAIR workforce. According to his nomination by Billie Bruno, department manager for the RF Guidance and Engineering Branch, Kidner has had an average of 12 mentees per year for the last several years, including new-hire, midlevel and senior employees from multiple departments.

“Dr. Kidner regularly uses his RF expertise to help NAVAIR remain the dominant global force for providing direct warfighter support for multiple programs, while developing the next generation of engineers and scientists,” Bruno said.

“The variety of mentees influenced by Dr. Kidner reflects his commitment to develop a knowledgeable workforce that will further NAVAIR’s vision of ensuring that sailors and Marines are armed with reliable and effective aircraft, weapons and systems so they succeed in every mission and return home.”

Kidner had a good mentor early on in his own career; Kidner pointed to Marko Afendikiw’s passion for the work that made him stand out as a mentor. He also helped Kidner in his quest to earn his Ph.D.

“He was the one that kept me on track,” Kidner said. “There were a couple of times I was ready to quit on it, and he was just like, ‘no.’”

Bruno said Kidner’s strength in mentoring lies in his approaches to scientific and engineering investigations, including working with new technologies, upgrading test procedures and facilities and engaging in other areas of his mentees’ interests.

“Dr. Kidner allows junior engineers ample freedom to explore and develop ideas while providing guidance that allows the mentees to succeed,” Bruno said.

“He also allows them opportunities to safely fail, which is a vital part of learning.”

Kidner said junior engineers are fun to be around, and that he’s been fortunate to work with some good ones over the years.

“It does give you a certain amount of joy to watch them go on and become something much more than you ever trained them to be,” he said.

“If you’re going to be a successful mentor, a big part of it is you have to accept the fact that they may beat you in 10 years.”

Pictured: Dr. Curt Kidner stands with Rear Adm. Scott Dillon, NAWCWD commander, after a ceremony Jan. 28 at which Kidner was honored as NAWCWD’s Mentor of the Year. — U.S. Navy photo by Aaron Crutchfield

Story First Published: 2020-02-21