Brooks AFB Wins Hammer Award for Internet-Based "Writing Tutor"
By Rudy Purificato
March 15, 1999
at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas can answer for themselves the
rhetorical question posed in Trini Lopezís 1960s hit song "If
I Had A Hammer." Now the baseís Air Force Research Laboratory
has oneóVice President Goreís Hammer Award for reinventing government.
Itís the first such award on the base.
stunned," said Dr. Kurk Steuck, the research psychologist whose
11-member team got the award in a ceremony last month. The team,
which includes private sector consultants and local high school
teachers, developed skills training software in math, writing, and
science. This led to intranet-based versions now in use and then
an Internet-based version of the writing tutor that has a promising
inaugurated the tutors in 1990 as part of a Fundamental Skills Training
Project. Several Department of Labor Job Corps centers and 40 public
schools nationwide use the three tutors.
the tutors work. Pam Cockrell at the Ouachita Civilian Conservation
Center, a Job Corps center outside Royal, AR, said three of her
students used the writing tutor to improve their essay writing.
They got their scores high enough to take the GED (general equivalency
diploma) exams. "I really need to use the system because I
know it works," she said.
of Labor officials, for whom Steuckís team is developing the Internet
version of the writing tutor, encouraged the Brooks scientist to
submit his project for award consideration. Government labor leaders
consider the project so valuable that DOL has committed $1 million
over two years to develop and field it.
DOL is exploring
ways to use the writing tutor to train its employees in writing
plain language business letters, memorandums, e-mail messages and
even cover letters for resumes. Plain language is a key component
of Goreís reinventing government initiative.
the possible applications to the Air Force is helping officers write
plain language reports, evaluations, letters, and other documents."
the Winning Team
team includes San Antonio-based Mei Technologyís Todd Miller, Thomas
N. Meyer and Monika Kretschmer; Command Technologies Inc.ís James
Johnson, Melinda Crevoisier, Chris Allen and Marcia Cromley; and
MacArthur High School teachers Carolyn Peshy, DíAnne Redmon and
Steuck is on
the staff of the Air Force Research Laboratory in the Human Effectiveness
Directorateís Information Training Branch His teamís work is part
of the Sustainable Intelligent Training System for Global Mission
Applications (SIGMA) project.
the Hammer Award
administered by the National Partnership for Reinventing Government,
counters the notion of a government that would spend $400 on a hammer.
It rewards teams of federal workers and their outside partners who
put customers first, cut costs, empower employees, cut red tape,
and achieve results Americans care about. Hammer Award recipients
receive a $6 hammer, a ribbon and a note from the Vice President
encased in an aluminum frame. More than 1200 awards have been presented
For more information
about Hammer Awards, visit http://www.npr.gov/library/awards/hammer/.
To find out about the Plain Language Initiative, visit http://www.plainlanguage.gov.
is a Science & Technology Communications Specialist at the Air
Force Research Laboratory at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. You may
reach him at (210) 536-2846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.