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How Veterans Helped Launch NASA’s New UHD Channel

Fans of space exploration got an early holiday gift this year with the arrival of NASA TV UHD, the first ever non-commercial consumer Ultra-High Definition (UHD) channel in North America. The partnership is the result of a Space Act Agreement between video infrastructure firm Harmonic and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

What you may not know is that NASA TV UHD was launched in part by U.S. military veterans. Earlier this year, Harmonic partnered with the V.E.T.S.™ (Vocation, Education, & Training for Service members) Program, a national veterans employment initiative privately funded by technology consulting firm Sharp Decisions.

Despite their talents, many U.S. veterans face challenges transitioning to civilian careers. The veterans’ unemployment rate in Harmonic’s home state of California stood at 7.4 percent last year, much higher than the national veterans average of 5.3 percent. The jobless rate for California’s post-9/11 veterans stood at 10.1 percent, nearly double the national average for veterans. We clearly can do a better job aligning veterans’ job skills with technology careers. By partnering with V.E.T.S., Harmonic hopes to be part of the solution.

Harmonic integrated several military veterans into the company’s software quality assurance team. They are responsible for video and audio quality analysis, performance and stress testing for a range of products, including the Electra X, Electra and VOS video processing solutions. Their work on these technologies made NASA TV UHD possible.

In our experience, highly trained military professionals bring something special to the job: poise, teamwork, and grace under pressure. From Desert Storm to Iraq and Afghanistan, these veterans have been tested in the toughest of environments. They share Harmonic’s commitment to the highest standards of execution, enabling our technologies to run 24X7 at scale for hundreds of channels, supporting global markets including the U.S, Europe and Asia. Millions of people watching content on TV’s, mobile devices and computers expect uninterrupted, high quality video content. These military veterans have continuously proven to be up to the task.

Rather than simply connect individual veterans with job openings, the V.E.T.S. Program puts veterans through intensive, military-style training for information technology careers. After this “boot camp,” veterans are deployed to companies like Harmonic in squads of three or more, emulating the platoon-based culture in which they thrived during their military service. It is a winning formula for both Harmonic and the veterans.

Video technology is a dynamic and growing market. For instance, HIS Infonetics predicted in a December report that global TV revenue would grow to $500 billion dollars in 2017. Like our industry counterparts, Harmonic looks for poise, teamwork and grace under pressure from all those who work on our client projects. The NASA TV UHD project demonstrates that military veterans absolutely meet this standard. Empowering veterans to pursue video technology and IT careers is not simply good for veterans—it can be good for the AV technology industry as well.

Chris Pattinson is Senior Vice President of Global Software Quality Assurance at Harmonic, Inc. Karen Ross is CEO of strategic business and technology consulting firm Sharp Decisions and Founder of the V.E.T.S. Program.