General Dynamics to hire engineers for Broward plant
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05/08/09 Seán Kinane
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Michael Guzelian of C4 Systems demonstrates the Sectéra Edge PDA.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

The Labor Department announced this morning that the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April, and it’s even higher in Florida.

Up to 20 Tampa Bay area engineers who have government security clearance and are willing to relocate to Broward County may be in luck finding a job next week.

C4 Systems is one of 12 business units of the weapons and technology company General Dynamics. On Monday and Tuesday they will be in Tampa to hire some of the 80 to 100 engineers they need to work on secure products at their plant in Sunrise, near Ft. Lauderdale.

Michael Guzelian is vice president of secure voice and data products with General Dynamics C4 Systems. “Our goal is to hire 20 new engineers by the end of Tuesday.”

The engineers hired will design secure networks, software, and hardware for devices such as the Sectéra Edge, a personal digital assistant similar to a Blackberry, but thicker. Guzelian says it is designed for rugged environments, including extremes of temperature and resistance to shock.

“What’s unique about this is with the press of one button, I switch over to actually a second PDA, that’s a classified PDA. So now this will allow me get into my classified email, classified websites, read and edit classified documents.”

Guzelian says the device can also make classified, secret, or top secret phone calls.

Another product made by C4 Systems helps to secure networks. According to Guzelian, about 120,000 data encryptors known as TACLANE are “deployed throughout the federal government.”

“And what happens with this unit -- it goes between a computer or a LAN, a local area network of computers, and an internet connection or an Internet Protocol connection. And this will encrypt all the computer data, emails, file transfers, voice going over a data network, video, and encrypt it so that you can now pass secret or top-secret information across the Internet or any unclassified network.”

Fran Jacques, public affairs director for General Dynamics C4 Systems, calls her company “the information communication technology side of the defense business.”

C4 stands for command, control, communications, and computers. Jacques says that applicants for these jobs will have to have security clearance from the federal government.

“They also will have an extensive background in either software or systems engineering. So they’ll have experience on some of the technology that we’re working on. After that it becomes a big acronym soup as far as all of the various software programs with which they’d be familiar or the types of technology that they’ve worked on in the past. It’s sort of like they know who they are.”

Even though the country’s unemployment rate is going up, Friday’s Labor Department report was not as bad as some economic analysts expected. 539,000 people lost their jobs in April, which is the fewest in six months. President Barack Obama called this “somewhat encouraging.” If April’s unemployment rate included people who have settled for part-time work or given up looking for a new job, it would be 15.8 percent, the highest since those records began to be recorded in 1994.

Beginning Monday, C4 Systems plans to hire people with high tech skills for positions that will have correspondingly high yearly earnings. “Salary ranges for the offers we’ll be making are between 80 and 120 thousand [dollars per year],” Guzelian said.

But there are critics of the company for its role in militarization. For example, Democracy Now! reported last May that ten activists were arrested protesting at a General Dynamics office in Burlington, Vermont. Among their demands were for General Dynamics to “stop producing Gatling guns and rockets and weapons of mass destruction, (and to) give back … $3.6 million in tax breaks.” Protesters said that government money would be better spent on necessities like education and health care rather than given to weapons manufacturers like General Dynamics.

Jacques points out that not all of her business deals directly with creating weapons.

“General Dynamics is obviously in the Department of Defense – we are a contractor for the United States Department of Defense. But we also support the Executive Branch of the government and we support Homeland Security and those aspects of communication that keep the nation secure.”

C4 Systems’ work, such as data encryption, is important in “protecting America’s assets … in other industries and in other sectors,” not just warfare, Jacques says. Her colleague, Guzelian also says that General Dynamics C4 Systems is about more than just weapons.

“Protecting our communications infrastructure within the United States I think is critical to protecting us in the future. A lot of people talk about the next 9/11 being a cyber event: the U.S. banking system being attacked from someone in a foreign country doing a computer attack.”

The General Dynamics C4 Systems recruiting campaign will take place on Monday and Tuesday from 11 am until 6 pm at the Renaissance Tampa Hotel in International Plaza.

Tampa Information Assurance Session and Hiring Event

GD C4 career information

General Dynamics

C4 Systems

Democracy Now! report on Vermont General Dynamics protest

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