Brent Gordon Brings the National Perspective to AWIPS
by Harriet Loeb
NWS Communications Office
Editor's Note: This is the fifth story in our AWIPS II series.

The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas and enthusiasm
              ~ Thomas J. Watson ~
Chairman of IBM, 1949-1956

After graduating from college and graduate school, Brent Gordon knew what he wanted to do. Armed with his degrees, he was ready to accomplish new things in the exciting field of operational meteorology. 
Gordon's enthusiasm for the field in those early years carries on in his current role as Chief of the Systems Integration Branch at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Central Operations, in Camp Springs, MD.  He needs it now more than ever.  Gordon's team is working to integrate NAWIPS directly into the AWIPS II system. 
Gordon said, "When the integration is finished, it's going to be a lot easier for the National Centers to coordinate and collaborate with the Weather Forecast Offices, and that is going to result in better watch products, better warnings, and really help deliver the seamless suite of products from the Weather Service."

Joe Carr sits at computer as Brent Gordon stands behind.Brent Gordon, Chief of the Systems Integration Branch at NCEP Central Operations, in Camp Springs, MD (standing), discusses a project with Joe Carr, Senior Duty Meteorologist Team Lead, NCEP Central Operations. Gordon is responsible for the integration of NAWIPS into the new AWIPS II architecture. (photo, Lauren Morone, NCEP)

AWIPS, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, is the information processing, display, and telecommunications system that forecasters use to view an integrated picture of all meteorological and hydrologic data for their area and prepare weather forecasts and warnings.  NAWIPS, which is National AWIPS, is a parallel system that delivers the national and global perspective for NCEP Centers. 
NAWIPS and AWIPS have traditionally been stand-alone systems.  Enter an NCEP forecast center today, and you will see an AWIPS workstation and an NAWIPS workstation sitting side by side. 
Visualize the future of AWIPS II, and you will see just one workstation that meets both NAWIPS and AWIPS requirements.  AWIPS II will be a comprehensive, modern, and adaptable technological architecture.
"Today, collaboration takes place over two systems that don't talk to each other," said Gordon.  "So you have to rely on folks to pick up the phone and enter their thoughts separately on two different systems.  In the AWIPS II era, one person can do this and send their ideas out on the same system, and then someone else can then turn around and either agree to or modify as they see fit.  The public is going to get a better product, and they are probably going to get it in a timelier manner than they do today."
"One of the immediate benefits that I see in having the NAWIPS system merge into the AWIPS II architecture is in cost savings in the area of software development," said Gordon.  "We are looking forward to reducing the level of effort we spend on the maintenance of the core functionality that is needed for any type of meteorological display system.  This is going to free up some resources we have, allowing us to go back and concentrate on all the requirements that the forecast centers are giving to us to meet their operational missions."
It took all of 2008 to plan for the transition of all the NAWIPS applications.  The office is on target with the schedule and wants to be ready to turn the system over to users in October 2010 so that they can evaluate its effectiveness.  The Office of Science and Technology (OST) is excited about the integration of NAWIPS and AWIPS.  OST notes that AWIPS II is still in development, and the milestone dates are subject to change.  They are trying to minimize the impact to follow-on projects such as the NAWIPS migration.
Gordon said, "There are going to be differences [from NAWIPS] that we can't avoid, mainly because it's an AWIPS system that we are migrating to.  It is not a NAWIPS system anymore."  Gordon wants to make the transition process as easy as possible by involving the Forecast Centers as early and frequently as possible with software releases as they become available. Center forecasters will have the chance to become familiar with the software and provide feedback before the final system is delivered.
Challenges such as these are what Gordon wanted when he received his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Northern Colorado and Master's Degree at the University of Oklahoma, both in meteorology.  Soon after, he realized Operational meteorology was the place to be.   He wanted to be doing "big" things and be part of the action.  The NWS offered exactly what he sought.

The NAWIPS migration might just be the "big" thing that Gordon was hoping to accomplish