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By Dolly Rairigh Glass

Robert Matthews NAWCTSDRob Matthews is only a few hours away from the city of Lake Wales, where he was born and raised. For the better part of thirty years now, he has made his home the Navy, seven and one-half years as an Aviation Electronics Technician, and then joining the Naval Training Systems Center, currently Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in 1985 as an education specialist.

Matthews completed his undergraduate requirements and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Southern Illinois University in 1983, then completed the requirements for a Master of Arts degree in Management from Central Michigan University, receiving his graduate degree in 1984. In his dual-hatted role, he currently serves as Deputy Technical Director and Director of Program Management, NAWCTSD.

As a charter Board of Directors (BOD) member for Team Orlando (TO), Matthews has seen the growth of the organization from its beginning and he talked about why he feels TO has enjoyed steady growth throughout the years. “I think the BOD has always operated in a very selfless way, not worrying about promoting our own organizations or what each individual service gets,” he said. “Our primary focus continues to be making sure the tide rises so all boats go up. That’s probably the characteristic that has made it so successful.”

When TO was stood up, Matthews remembers that very few people knew the Navy was still in the area, much less the Army or any other military organization. Even as he traveled around serving as the Navy League President during those early years, people would ask why was there a Navy League in Orlando and didn’t realize there was a Navy presence, or for that matter, an Army or Marine presence.

“I would say that recognition by the local community, state community and now nationally of this area, is probably the one significant accomplishment that Team Orlando could brag about,” said Matthews. “There’s not a soldier or sailor that goes to war anymore that doesn’t use a product that was somehow bought or influenced in this area. In my mind, the crowning jewel is the fact that we now have national recognition.”

And now, Matthews said, the next area of focus for TO is applying a team approach and perspective regarding efforts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). “Each organization is doing a great job,” Matthews noted, “but as we’ve done for our primary missions, if we apply the same model to STEM, then we could be a much better community partner for the local area, the state and for the Nation.”

“We may, or may not know, what the other organizations are doing and that’s counter productive,” said Matthews. “This approach will allow us to steer our strategic efforts, so we’re not overlapping unless overlapping is desired.”

A true Floridian and serving in the Navy, it only makes sense that Matthews enjoys boating and being on the water. He also likes the time he spends with his son participating in Scouting, adding that he feels fortunate to still have a child at home.

Although Matthews is not ‘doing’ training in his every day job, he said that as he gets older, he realizes that you don’t have to be doing what you love as your primary function to contribute to the love you have for something.

“I realized this just the other day,” Matthew stated. “I’ve been in the training business for 30 years, and at the same time, I have worked with the Navy almost the whole time. It’s allowed me to tie together two things that I feel pretty passionate about – the Navy and training. It has been very rewarding.”

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