2006 News

November 15, 2006 - NASA Dryden Awards Consulting Engineering Contracts

NASA Dryden Awards Consulting Engineering Contracts NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center has awarded contracts to five companies for professional engineering and management services to aid the center in acquiring world-class flight research, test and operational-oriented projects. The fixed-price ID/IQ contracts cover a base period of one year with options for up to four additional years, depending on the results of services rendered. The total amount of each contract cannot exceed $5 million over the five-year maximum performance period. The five firms include:

  • Aerospace Services International, LLC, Palmdale, CA.
  • The Padina Group, Austin, TX.
  • Crown Consulting, Inc., Washington, D.C.
  • Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Houston, TX.
  • Zel Technologies, LLC, Hampton, VA.

According to Dryden contracting officer Jim E. Kitahara, the terms of the contracts require the five firms to provide the NASA center with "expertise and assistance in developing long-term business relationships, both domestic and international, with government and industry from around the world. Emphasis will be on traditional aerospace applications utilizing the center's core competencies and capabilities, but non-traditional opportunities may also be sought." One of 10 NASA field centers, the Dryden Flight Research Center is NASA's primary center for atmospheric flight research operations. Located at Edwards, CA., NASA Dryden is chartered to research, develop, verify and transfer advanced aeronautics, space and related technologies. Dryden also serves as a backup landing site for the space shuttle orbiters, conducts high-altitude Earth resources science flights, and has been chartered to manage the testing of the launch abort system for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle under NASA's Constellation program to resume human exploration of the solar system. For more information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and its research projects, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden.

October 18, 2006 - A War of Words


A war of words
The Two-Way Speech-to-Speech program is a work in progress with 70 prototypes in use in Iraq.


October 18, 2006

NORFOLK -- The military is using a science fiction-like gadget in Iraq to help troops with few linguistic skills communicate with civilians and Iraqis training in the country's emerging police and military forces.

Called the Two-Way Speech-to-Speech Program, it's a translator that uses a computer to convert spoken English to Iraqi Arabic and vice versa.

While the program is technically still in the research and development stage, the Norfolk-based U.S. Joint Forces Command has sent 70 prototypes to Iraq, where troops are using it on the job to evaluate how well it works.

So far, so good, said Wayne Richards, chief of the command's implementation branch.  An inability to communicate with the population has been a problem for U.S. troops trying to win support.  Human translators are scarce in Iraq.

The command received an urgent request in 2004 from commanders in Iraq who wanted someone to find a way to bridge the language divide, Richards said.  The device is being used today mostly for what some are calling the most important job in Iraq: training Iraq's police officer and military troops.  Getting those forces trained to secure the country on their own is the ticket home for U.S. troops who continue to rotate in and out of the war zone.  Experts have been trying to develop this type of translation technology for about 10 years, Richards said.
In its current configuration, the translator is a rugged laptop with plugs for two microphones or two headsets, Richards said, pointing to a prototype and turning it on.  It's as easy to use as talking on the phone, as was evident after a brief demonstration in Norfolk on Tuesday.
Say into the microphone, "We are here to provide food and water for your family.”  Hold down the E for English key on the keyboard.  The written text of your words pops up on the screen.

Scan the words to make sure it picked up the exact wording.  If not, change it.  Hit the T key for translate, and the sentence pops up on the screen again, this time in Iraqi Arabic.  The computer then broadcasts the words aloud through the computer's speakers.  The process is almost the same going from Arabic to English.  As a human translator would do, the program assumes some meanings.  "It's not 100 percent" accurate, Richards said.  Ask, for example, "Did you read the newspaper today?" in English, and the direct Arabic translation turns that into, "Did you read the newspaper the day?”  Because the program is a work in progress, every conversation held with the translator is recorded.  Then, the Defense Language Institute in California reviews all the translations and helps correct the linguistic mistakes, Richards said.  The technology was created in partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and defense contractors.

Right now, because of its bulk, the best place to use the translator is in a headquarters or a classroom setting.  It's too unwieldy for the average Marine Corps sergeant to cart it along with his other 100 pounds of gear as he patrols in Baghdad's Sadr City area.  But one day it could become small enough for that sergeant to carry it in his pocket.  Think about it, Richards said.  "Our soldiers today have to interface with the local populace," Richards said.  All kinds of problems, he added, can be solved if U.S. troops can calmly convey what they're doing and what they want.


January 31, 2006 - Zel Technologies LLC Appoints James F. Grant as Company President

Zel Technologies LLC (ZelTech) has named James F. Grant President, effective January 1. Grant will report to Jack L. Ezzell, Jr., ZelTech's Chief Executive Officer.

As President, Grant will direct and coordinate corporate activities at over 30 sites worldwide and oversee the success of programs providing critical support to key national defense tasks, including military operations, intelligence activities, homeland security initiatives and critical infrastructure protection. Prior to this promotion, Grant was ZelTech's Executive Vice President.

Grant began his career at ZelTech in 1995 and has a broad range of experience serving the company's national security customers. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island, a master's degree in Russian studies from Georgetown University, and is a graduate of the National War College. Grant retired from the US Air Force in 1992 with the rank of brigadier general following an assignment as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence for US Forces Korea. He also serves as President of the National Military Intelligence Association.

Zel Technologies, based in Hampton, VA, is a professional services and information systems company that provides knowledge, tools, and solutions needed for correct and timely decisions and effective actions to help ensure US national security. It specializes in the delivery of leading edge technologies, state-of-the-art systems and battle tested processes to help modernize military command and control (C2) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations and to protect the physical and information infrastructures of the United States. ZelTech also provides intelligence support to national agencies and to military operations around the world.


February 11, 2006 - Students Score Big with ZelTech at MEGAGENESIS 2006

On Saturday, February 11th, 2006 hundreds of students crowded the ZelTech exhibit booth at MEGAGENESIS 2006, anxious to play XboxTM and learn how skills in gaming equate to skills for employment.

MEGAGENESIS is a Career Day program held each year at Woodside High School in Newport News, VA. The program focuses on encouraging and preparing students to attend college. It is designed to assist with the development of highly motivated, goal-oriented students who are likely to study harder, score higher, improve academic achievement, and Standards of Learning test scores.

Co-sponsored by Newport News Public Schools and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., MEGAGENESIS has been a yearly event for the past 10 years. ZelTech has been an honored participant for the past nine years. An average of 1,000 students attend the program each year with the support of parents, community leaders and state representatives. Last year, over 1,700 students and parents attended MEGAGENESIS. Attendees were introduced to professions and colleges to potentially inspire their careers and educational goals. Corporate sponsors provided lunch for students, parents, and exhibitors.

MEGAGENESIS consists of four components:

Morning components included -
1. Motivational speaker (2006 - Will La Veist; Daily Press Columnist)
2. College recruiters from over 60 colleges and universities
3. Corporate exhibits demonstrating uses of various college majors

Afternoon components included -
4. Fifty-five seminars hosted by local professionals (e.g., doctors, engineers, and other professionals similar to those who work at ZelTech)

ZelTech's trade show exhibit was a rounding success. Nineteen-inch television screens displayed the dazzle and hooks of Dual Xbox systems, which captured the student's attention and engaged them in conversation about careers in the technology field. Students also participated in drag races ("Need for Speed"), while discussing Xbox skills and tricks. Xbox helped them make the connection between gaming skills and the technology employed which could be a strong link to their future career and employment opportunities. Winners received promotional prizes including pens and puzzles provided by ZelTech's Recruiting Department. In some cases, the puzzles drew more attention than Xbox - the multicolored orbs were a real challenge.

The event attracted a myriad of inquisitive minds. The ZelTech booth was mobbed for most of the day! Hundreds visited, and asked about employment with ZelTech. They also wanted to know how they could pursue careers in gaming and other technologies. Over 60 students registered for follow-up career discussions. For additional incentives, drawings were held for calculators and pocket radios. Mr. Jack Ezzell, ZelTech's CEO, and Mr. Darwin Washington conducted a seminar on Business Management; and Mr. Lewis, Mr. Hudson and Mr. Ridley collaborated with the IT Director for the City of Norfolk to conduct a seminar on Careers in Technology.

The names of registrants were provided to the Newport News Superintendent of Public Schools and the Hampton Coalition for Youth to coordinate opportunities for corporate tours and discussions with career counselors.