Copernicus Awards: Recognizing the people behind the ones and zeros

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross

Be it a voice over the phone, words across your screen or the occasional onsite visit, it isn’t often most of us see or interact with the perpetual churning machine that makes up our information systems technician force. Within this machine, some of our shipmates move beyond the ticket queue dilemmas, as they seek better technological methods and solutions that make a positive impact Coast Guard-wide.

Rear Adm. Marshall Lytle, acting Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, assistant commandant for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Technology Service Center, and commander for Coast Guard Cyber Command in Alexandria, Va., Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie, an information systems technician with the Base Seattle Electronic Support Detachment, Lt. Cmdr. Vince Taylor, from Telecommunication and Information Systems Command in Alexandria, Lt. Cmdr. Sean Plankey, from Coast Guard Headquarters in Alexandria, and Vincent Patton, the executive director of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Education Foundation in Fairfax, Va., stand for a group picture for the 2015 Copernicus Awards at the Western Conference and Exposition in San Diego, Feb. 10, 2015. Lytle presented the award to Coast Guard winners Guthrie, Taylor and Plankey, which is granted by the AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute, to individuals for their sustained superior performance in C4IT related jobs. (Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie)

Rear Adm. Marshall Lytle, acting Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, assist. commandant C4IT Service Center, and commander Coast Guard Cyber Command in Alexandria, Va., Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie, an information systems technician with Base Seattle Electronic Support Detachment, Lt. Cmdr. Vince Taylor, Telecommunication and Information Systems Command in Alexandria, Lt. Cmdr. Sean Plankey, Coast Guard Headquarters in Alexandria, and Vincent Patton, executive director of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Education Foundation in Fairfax, Va., stand for a photo at the 2015 Copernicus Awards at the Western Conference and Exposition in San Diego, Feb. 10, 2015. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie.

For successfully developing automated methods of non-standard software identification, hard drive encryption and the remote installation of software throughout the Coast Guard network, Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew P. Guthrie was presented with the Copernicus Award in February.

The award is given by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute, to individuals for their sustained superior performance in Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence, as well as Information Technology related jobs. Navy judges review applications from the Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, including both active duty and civilians, as a part of their selection process.

Guthrie has been an information systems technician for over six years and is currently stationed with the Electronic Support Detachment in Seattle. As a field he chose for the personal enjoyment, he describes IT as enabling people to do their job. In addition to handling tickets, he receives a lot of special projects, which he noted is something very unusual for someone at his rank. One of these projects started as a script, which identifies which computers on the 13th District network have non-standard applications installed on them. This allows ESD members to know what software requires re-installation after a workstation has been upgraded to a new operating system.

An example of a report generated by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie’s script. The script was initially developed to identify computers on the Coast Guard 13th District network with non-standard software and later modified to identify software, hardware and other various workstation components as well. (Screen capture courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross)

An example of a report generated by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie’s script. The script was initially developed to identify computers on the Coast Guard 13th District network with non-standard software and later modified to identify software, hardware and other various workstation components. Screen capture by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

When the chief of the Field Services Division, at the Coast Guard C4IT Service Center in Alexandria, Virginia, learned about the capabilities of Guthrie’s script, he invited Guthrie to join a working group for the OS image deployment and tasked him with applying his solution across the entire Coast Guard enterprise. Due to his efforts, C4IT Service Center FSD authorized the deployment of the OS to all ESDs, as compared to previously being limited to only the 1st and 17th Districts. Guthrie’s script is currently being used across the Coast Guard.

It was also quickly realized the script could be easily modified to identify other workstation related items, from who the primary user is, last log on, make and model of the workstation, as well as the make and model of its various hardware components.

“I can run reports any time we need some information,” said Guthrie. “I need to know how many E6500s we have? We have 118, done!”

Whether it’s migrating work stations to a new OS, calculating what items the ESD needs to order, identifying what switch port a computer is connected to, or any other information involving workstations in a district, Guthrie has the framework built to where that information is readily retrievable.

“It’s so easy for me to extend or modify,” said Guthrie in reference to applying changes for requests from other districts. “If someone needs to know what graphics cards are on all their computers, I can return to them within an hour or two and have them go ahead and test it in their district.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie works on various morning tasks, his 2015 Copernicus Award set out for a photo op on his desk at Coast Guard Base Seattle, March 3, 2015. Guthrie has been an information systems technician for over six years, and is currently stationed at the Electronic Support Detachment at Coast Guard Base Seattle. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Guthrie works on various morning tasks, his 2015 Copernicus Award set out for a photo op on his desk at Coast Guard Base Seattle, March 3, 2015. Guthrie has been an information systems technician for over six years, and is currently stationed at the Electronic Support Detachment at Coast Guard Base Seattle. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

His script is designed so that the more horsepower you give it, the faster it will run, with the capability to dial it down if needed.

“It kind of tops out at about 45 minutes for 1,000 computers,” added Guthrie.

Guthrie’s award winning contributions are not limited only to his script. He automated the deployment of hard drive encryption to all laptops in the 13th District, ensuring the security of data at rest and compliance with information assurance requirements, as well as saving an excess of 80 man hours. Guthrie also designed and implemented an automated method for deploying particular software on 13th District workstations. His method eliminated the need for users to acknowledge the download and installation of the software.

His dedication spans beyond the technical side of his job and focus on the people as well. Guthrie regularly provides training after normal hours for his ESD peers. He has also volunteered and deployed to meet critical fills on various Coast Guard cutters and in other districts.

“The Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore lost their IT before going into their Tailored Ship’s Training Availability evaluation,” said Guthrie about the intensive training period designed to test a cutter crew’s performance in shipboard operation and emergency procedures.

Using his seagoing buoy tender background from his prior experience on the cutter Hickory, he was able to aid in repairs, drills and provide general IT assistance. He also went to the 1st District to aid in the preparation for the Defense Information Systems Agency Command Cyber Readiness Inspection.

Guthrie has continually demonstrated his willingness to provide assistance and an ability to utilize present day technology and infrastructure to cater to the needs of the people, instead of the capabilities of our equipment. Harnessing the spirit of Copernicus Architecture, for which the award he received was named after.

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