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TDDEC supports training mission

Joaquin Tinker, 30th Operations Support Squadron Training Device Design and Engineering Center mechanical engineering technician, hoses off a device after a Computer Numerical Controlled Milling Center completed its cutting operation, May 26, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Undertaking their own machining, electronics, carpentry, painting, 3-D printing and more – each individual at the TDDEC is a specialist in nearly 35 different trades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford/Released)

Joaquin Tinker, 30th Operations Support Squadron Training Device Design and Engineering Center mechanical engineering technician, hoses off a device after a Computer Numerical Controlled Milling Center completed its cutting operation, May 26, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Undertaking their own machining, electronics, carpentry, painting, 3-D printing and more – each individual at the TDDEC is a specialist in nearly 35 different trades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  With carefully orchestrated operations spanning the globe, all forms of Air Force training are essential to ensure Airmen remain safe and accomplish the job efficiently.

With this in mind, the Vandenberg Training Device Design and Engineering Center has supported the Air Force space and missile mission around the world, by providing training devices and models for Airmen.

"Our mission is building training devices for the space and missile community," said Dell Barritt, 30th Operations Support Squadron TDDEC director. "A training device can be something simple, to something very complex, like a simulator. Because of our unique capability, there is a whole multitude of ways to support launches and other real-world operations on Vandenberg."

Only a five man shop, the TDDEC members are required to be versatile engineers.

"We are all expected to do virtually everything, from product conception to delivery," said Barritt. "Everyone does their own design work, orders their own materials, interprets what the customer wants and then follows the manufacturing process through to delivery."

Undertaking their own machining, electronics, carpentry, painting, 3-D printing and more - each individual is a specialist in nearly 35 different trades.

"We all joined this team with an expertise in something, so we share it with each other," said Barritt. "But overall we are responsible for everything."

The models are used in training environments and to better visualize various space and missile equipment.

"It's easier to get a better idea of real-world issues looking at a smaller scale," said Barritt.

Opportunities are endless with the multitude of different machines located at the center. However, the most important tool the TDDEC members use is a computer drafting program called Solid Works.

"Solid Works is a two part process where we use computer assisted design software to generate digital solid models," said Joaquin Tinker, 30th OSS TDDEC mechanical engineering technician. "From this solid model we can identify different features and transfer the information over to an actual machine. You're basically creating something out of nothing, taking geometry and crafting it into the form you want. This program will give the weight, dimensions, center of gravity and other important calculations on the model."

Although this process can be tedious and assume almost a week's worth of work, it is fundamental to production and saves time overall.

"We can build huge assemblies inside of Solid Works," said Tinker. "If there is going to be a problem during the manufacturing process, this program has a computerized simulation we watch to validate the program before we run it. This program saves time in production so that everything is tested prior to sending the data to the machines."

Instead of relying on large corporations to provide models, the TDDEC is available to support the Air Force, ultimately saving money.

"We save a lot of money for the Air Force," said Barritt. "There are significant savings because we take a different approach. Instead of using exotic or expensive materials, we print objects with our 3-D printer, saving money."

The TDDEC mission has been, and always will be, to support the education of the United States' premier space and missile force.

"There's never been a missileer trained by the Air Force that has not worked with one of our products," said Barritt. "If you can imagine it, we can build it."