An inside look at Quality Engineering Test Establishment

Dan Ouellette, group leader of Quality Engineering Test  Establishment, Measurement Sciences in Ottawa, demonstrates the movement of an articulating arm Coordinate Measurement Machine, which is used for both contact (tactile probing/scanning with a stylus), and non-contact scanning using a laser accessory at the recent Open House.

Dan Ouellette, group leader of Quality Engineering Test Establishment, Measurement Sciences in Ottawa, demonstrates the movement of an articulating arm Coordinate Measurement Machine, which is used for both contact (tactile probing/scanning with a stylus), and non-contact scanning using a laser accessory at the recent Open House. Photo by DND

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The Quality Engineering Test Establishment (QETE) ensures the materials and equipment provided to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) meets the stringent requirements needed to meet the demands of the operational environment.

Accident and failure investigation, test and evaluation, acting as the program and technical authority for the CAF calibration, Emission Security and Radio Frequency Safety programs are just a few of the unique services provided by QETE.

QETE’s recent open house was an opportunity for their partners such as the National Research Council, Defence Research Department Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the University of Ottawa, to observe the capabilities of the QETE labs and their personnel.

“Our biggest strength is our people, by far. Their passion and their commitment for serving the men and women of the CAF are remarkable,” says Serge Carignan, QETE Superintendent.

One of the more interesting partners is the Museum of Nature, brought in recently to help with a project on the lethality of range on a new rifle that had to be able to kill a polar bear with one shot. By studying the skeleton of a polar bear, QETE personnel were able to simulate the hide, tissue and bone in a test environment to scientifically determine the lethality of various weapons and ammunition calibre.

“This is an example of QETE’s science and engineering department reaching out to any type of organization to get the answers they need,” said Carignan.

Performing accident and failure investigations is one of QETE’s most important roles. He emphasized that it is often critical for the CAF to determine the cause of a failure so an aircraft or vehicle fleet can be returned to operational status as quickly as possible.

Carignan further explained that QETE routinely deals with real-time and real-life test and evaluation tasks that are linked to the CAF’s ability to acquire new equipment through mitigating procurement risks.

QETE deals with real-time, real-life situations such as aircraft incidents and crashes, fuel contamination issues, studying UAVs, and helping the Department understand and deal with the challenges presented by emerging technologies.

QETE studies how the CAF can resolve these challenges, and contribute to save lives and mitigate the potential hazards to CAF assets.

QETE has a number of specialized sections to carry out analyses, investigations, programs, and research to deliver the services it offers. These include the mechanical and materials engineering section, the applied science section, the electrical engineering section, and the measurement science and imagery sections all located in the National Printing Bureau in Gatineau, Que., as well as a Munitions Experimental Test Centre (METC) detachment in Valcartier, Que.

What makes QETE unique is their delivery of specialized engineering services in a laboratory, in the field, or at some other facilities. Each lab within QETE is deployable when needed, with some project platforms being too large to be brought to their building. For example, if an aircraft had an electro-optics or part failure, a QETE team would be sent to the field to do the analysis and investigation. This work is carried out by the 248 personnel in 40 separate laboratories, all of whom are specialized in fields such as failure and accident investigations, testing and evaluation of equipment, and technical advice. With 350 projects a year, QETE staff is kept busy, but manages to deliver most projects with a one- to two-week turn around.

Who are QETE’s clients?

QETE is a tri-service organization and its clients are drawn from all elements of the CAF including Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). The Canadian Army or the Director General Land Equipment Program Management accounts for approximately 40 per cent of QETE’s workload; the Royal Canadian Air Force, whether it is the Director General Aerospace Equipment Program Management, the Director of Flight Safety, or 1 Canadian Air Division, represents a further 40 per cent of the tasks or projects performed by QETE. Projects relating to the Royal Canadian Navy constitute the final 20 per cent of the workload.

The challenges facing QETE are finding the specialized personnel.

“My unit is challenged in finding and then training new employees because of the specialized multi-disciplinary nature of the work performed at QETE,” said Carignan. “It takes approximately five years before an engineer or technologist is fully productive in performing specialized test and evaluation; so we have to develop a knowledge transfer plan, and try to have the new person in place six months to a year before the other employee retires.”

Each month QETE experiences the loss of highly qualified and experienced professionals.  Recruiting and retaining personnel with the right skill sets is the biggest challenge to continue providing the breadth of services.

With such a large number of multi-disciplinary specialized positions, finding the right people to do the job can be tough.

What has surprised Carignan most about QETE when he assumed the appointment as Superintendent three-and-a-half years ago was the passion and dedication of the people in his organization.

“Their passion and their commitment for serving the men and women of the CAF are remarkable. Unlike some organizations in the military or DND, our employees may develop their special skills over a career of 20, 30, or 40 years. They elect to remain at QETE because there is little that is routine about their work and the challenges they encounter.  It is always exciting, and we are continually upgrading their skills so they can challenge themselves.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  2. Garry Smith says:

    Finally a well written and accurate article about QETE. I am proud and fortunate to have been an employee at QETE for the past 23 years and would not want to work anywhere else.

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