Navy brings a boom

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The company has added 84 new employees this year to meet the requirements of its various defense contract jobs and is advertising another 65 positions — mostly engineering jobs — at the Pittsfield plant, according to a company spokeswoman.

"We have entry level to Navy retirees," said Brenda Burdick, senior manager for marketing and communications at GDAIS, of the range of expertise sought at the plant, where nearly 1,000 people are now employed.

New employees have come from New York City, Washington and Arizona, she said.

General Dynamics, a $27.5 billion defense contracting company based in Virginia, employs more than 84,000 worldwide.

The information systems division in Pittsfield has hundreds of millions of dollars in various military contracts, including a four-year, $91.3 million contract awarded last year for work on weapon control systems.

Last August, the company won a $2.3 billion information services contract with the U.S. Air Force, and for several years the plant has been at work on the Navy's Littoral combat ship, a shallow-water vessel with an electronic infrastructure system that can be easily reconfigured and adapted to changing requirements.

Last year, the state released data indicating that, in 2005, General Dynamics earned about $1.7 billion in defense contracts at its various Massachusetts locations. The Pittsfield plant took in $45.4 million that year.

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Updated figures were not released by General Dynamics this week.

Meanwhile, the company has unveiled a new 11,000-square-foot work space that will streamline the company's work on its shipboard electronics repair facility, which has been dispersed in various spots at the Plastics Avenue facility since 2005.

The renovated facility has space for 16 repair personnel and 24 development engineers, said Burdick.

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The company's vice president and general manager, Mike Tweed-Kent, said this week in a statement, "We are proud to contribute to the protection of our nation by providing the U.S. Navy with this repair facility, in addition to the guidance system repair work already being done at our building on Merrill Road."

The new facility, he said, has led to reduced repair time.

Burdick did not disclose the cost of the renovation but noted that a number of area businesses were involved in the project, including Martino Glass, Scott's Carpet One and Adams Plumbing and Heating.

To fill its jobs, General Dynamics recruits on college campuses, through professional engineering societies, and by encouraging internal referrals. The company posts its jobs on its own Web site, and uses other sites, like Monster.com, Burdick said.

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"There's a lot of competition for really good engineers, so we have that kind of challenge, but we're getting new people," said Annemarie Fitzgerald, technical manager of guidance development and analysis.

In recent months she has hired at least three new engineers: Edo Ciobotaru, 22, a recent graduate from New York City; Rick Schweitzer, 48, a Dalton native who switched to defense from another technology field, and T.J. Hren, 54, who worked previously at General Dynamics in California.

Ciobotaru was drawn to General Dynamics largely for its engineering leadership program, he said, which he expects will bring professional development benefits.

"It's a great company to advance in," he said.

Schweitzer said his career change came about after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was too old to join the military but wanted to put his skills to use in a way that would help national defense.

All three work for the company's fleet ballistic missile program.


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