The Sun News

Q&A with Alan Frost

Residence: Warner Robins

Volunteer: Air Force Communications and Electronics Association, executive vice president

Q: How long has the Air Force Communications and Electronics Association been active at Robins Air Force Base?

A: Twenty years or more.

Q: Is it strictly Air Force/military-related?

A: It’s armed forces-related, but not just Air Force. Just about every Air Force base has a local chapter, though.

Q: What’s AFCEA’s purpose?

A: To provide professional development for people involved in communications and electronics and give opportunities for networking with other professionals. We also have a community service aspect centering on education and promoting science, technology, engineering and math subjects and careers among students.

Q: What sort of work are members of the association typically involved in?

A: Our chapter, we’re known as the Middle Georgia Chapter of AFCEA, is definitely geared toward Robins Air Force Base. Most of our members are civilian or military personnel supporting the base in communications and electronics. I use those two words a lot, but that’s what we do.

Q: So what do you mean when you use them?

A: For us, it can be satellite, radio, computer network and related communications with the electronics that make them work. The 5th Combat Communications Group -- Fifth Mob -- is really the core group involving those technologies and skill sets for us in Warner Robins, but there’s also the 78 Air Base Wing’s communication squadron and other areas. So it’s a combination of Fifth Mob type satellite field communications and computer networks and data centers, those sorts of things.

Q: What benefit is AFCEA for members?

A: First, you get our monthly magazine, SIGNAL, which provides current information of interest covering all service branches as well as highlights from local chapters. But I think a unique benefit is AFCEA’s emphasis on young AFCEA-ians; the way older professionals mentor and help young professionals -- even though we joke that a young AFCEA-ian is someone under 40. But there’s an emphasis on helping young professionals.

Q: What does the group do in relation to the wider community?

A: We give a thousand dollar grant each year to support teaching efforts. We give a Future Scientists and Engineers of America Grant at Russell Elementary School where one of our members, Doug Moody, works with fourth and fifth graders doing hands-on projects teaching science and engineering. We’re also involved in the local middle and high school science fair program with judging and awards.

Q: And you give scholarships, don’t you?

A: We offer annual scholarships to both high school and to college and graduate school students. The number and amount of scholarships we give year to year varies, but the amount is generally from $750 to $1,000 to each recipient. We specifically look for students in technology and science for these. Application deadlines are in early May and then they’re given out in June.

Q: How can parents and students find out about the scholarships?

A: We get the word out any way we can but primarily through our website and word of mouth. High school guidance counselors should have information.

Q: What’s your website?

A: Go to www.afcea.org and www.middle-georgia.afceachapter.org. We’re also involved in sponsoring and hosting the base’s big tech expos. One of the ways we raise funds for the scholarship is through the expos, plus there are other fundraisers. Also in the community, we’ve done things like help sponsor the Christmas party at the Methodist Children’s Home in Macon.

Q: How many members do you have locally?

A: We have 60, but our monthly luncheon meetings can be larger or smaller depending on the speaker. Our regular luncheons feature a field-related speaker for professional development plus the opportunity to interact and get to know other professionals. They’re the fourth Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the base restaurant.

Q: How does someone get involved?

A: They’re usually invited to a luncheon, or just come. Or they can go to the website and find out more.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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