•MOST PROMISING engineer - Bachelor’s •


Capt. Jan K.

Global Positioning Systems Block III Systems Engineering, Requirements Manager, GPS Space Vehicles Division, Los Angeles AFB, CA
U.S. Air Force

M.S., Industrial Engineering & Management, Oklahoma State University (In Progress)
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Capt. Jan K. Huertas was always fascinated by aircraft. His parents used to take him to air shows and a small aircraft park next to the local airport where they had small planes children could ride on. it was the closest thing to an actual Air and Space museum he had access to.

It was only natural, therefore, that he decided after high school to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez. It was at UPRM that Capt. Huertas participated in a research project with NASA developing new methods to carry payloads into space — a valuable experience that gave him positive feedback from actual NASA engineers.

Coming from a family of veterans and wanting to continue the legacy of national service, Capt. Huertas also joined the U.S Air Force ROTC while in college. After commissioning within the U.S Air Force as a 2ndLieutenant he was assigned to the Life Cycle Management Center, Mobility Directorate, Commercial Derivative Aircraft Division at Tinker Air Force Base. His first assignment was to work as an engineer for a Foreign Military Sales C-208 program and later as a Modifications Engineer for the E-4B aircraft, where he was responsible for upgrading most of the obsolete communications systems the aircraft had.

The success that Capt. Huertas had on these projects led to an assignment as the lead engineer for a $265M dollar project for the DoD Chiefs of Staffs where he led a team in validation activities for software and thermal testing for the Iraq C-208 $4M communications program, thus improving the aircraft capabilities and availability for the warfighter. He also averted the grounding of the C-208 fleet by initiating engineering requests worth $5M dollars. 

Working with the E-4B, Capt. Huertas streamlined the plane’s system modification plan by identifying over 200 critical components deemed obsolete for removal and replacement. He also served as the technical lead for a $50M antenna kit proposal where he saved the U.S. Air Force $7M dollars, and reduced the delivery schedule by two months. He was awarded with the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service for his accomplishments.

A deployment to Afghanistan helped Capt. Huertas broaden his field experience in a combined/joint environment. Sent to the Combined Security Transition Command, Security Assistance Office, he led a $160 million dollar English Comprehension Language testing program by providing all testing throughout the country of Afghanistan, revamping throughput by 250%.

Capt. Huertas was also the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) for programming, managing and executing a $531M dollar training portfolio in support of the Afghanistan Campaign Road Map initiative of tripling the size and capabilities of the Afghanistan Air Force and doubling the size of the Special Operations Force. His many accomplishments during this tour led to a Joint Service Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service.

His latest assignment to the Space and Missiles Center, Global Positioning Systems Directorate, Space vehicles Division at Los Angeles AFB is expected to deliver equally impressive performance.