We are very happy to announce that the ICNS executive committee has chosen Denise Ponchak as this year’s 2020 winner for the ICNS Champion Award.
The ICNS Champion Award was established with a primary goal to recognize individuals with significant contribution to CNS either as whole or in one or more of its components.
Ms. Denise S. Ponchak is currently a space communications consultant for Teltrium Solutions LLC supporting NASA Headquarters’ Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program. Previously, she was the branch chief of the Communications Architectures, Networks and Systems Branch at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The branch was responsible for designing advanced networking concepts, architectures, technologies and system integration for aeronautics and space applications.
Prior to becoming a supervisor, Ms. Ponchak was an aeronautical communications project manager focusing on increasing the National Airspace System (NAS) telecommunications capability, and a communications research engineer supporting future satellite-based communications.
In the mid-1990s Denise identified the need for aeronautical communications to support national objectives in air traffic management. Since then, she dedicated her career to the advancement of ICNS technologies and systems. This began with her success in advocating for resources, developing a project plan and leading the Advanced Communications for Air Traffic Management (AC/ATM) Project in 1996 that ultimately developed the first integrated Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Architecture and identified NASA Glenn Research Center as the AeroComm Leadership within the agency. AC/ATM also developed the first transmit/receive Ku-Band satcom phased array antennas that demonstrated broadband service to transport aircraft and won a prestigious NASA Turning Goals into Reality (TGIR) Award presented by the NASA Administrator of Aeronautics in 2001.
After this effort, Denise moved into management and over the years managed many AeroComm projects such as Weather Information Communications (WINCOMM) that demonstrated a communication system delivering weather to the cockpit of GA aircraft, earning a second prestigious TGIR Award in 2002. Following WINCOMM was the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) Airborne Internet that demonstrated air-to-air network relay for beyond line-of-sight aircraft and a third TGIR Award recipient in 2003.
Denise oversaw several aeronautics projects supporting NASA and National aeronautics objectives including Unattended Aircraft Systems operating in the National Airspace System (UAS in the NAS), developing the standards for Command and Control (C2) datalinks in partnership with Rockwell Collins, developing C2 Radios to characterize the links and demonstrate and the technical capabilities.
Another major effort under her supervision was for the development of the Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communications System (AeroMACS) for the FAA which uses Wi-MAX-based technology to communicate with aircraft on the airport surface and is operational today in several airports. Denise personally led several contracted studies with Boeing, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Xcelar on ICNS architectures to identify research gaps and technology development that would support new communications systems bringing significant benefit to the safety and capacity of our National Airspace and creating new capabilities for the flying public.
She holds both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Cleveland State University in 1983 and 1988 respectively.