Radio engineer Tony Abfalter is about to take a break from his normal work to head out on an unusual assignment.
Leighton Broadcasting, where Abfalter is director of engineering, said he is beginning a hiatus this week to join the U.S. Antarctic Program, part of the National Science Foundation team, as senior communications technician.
[Related: “Engineer Tony Abfalter Is an MVP”]
“In this role Tony will be supporting a variety of communications systems, as well as assisting National Science Foundation staff with ongoing upgrades as needed,” Leighton said in an announcement.
This means he’s headed for the famous McMurdo Station on Ross Island, Antarctica, the southernmost point accessible by ship during local summer.
Abfalter will start with quarantines in Seattle and New Zealand. At McMurdo, he’ll work for nine months.
“While on location Tony will be responsible to troubleshoot and maintain all aspects of wired and wireless communications,” it said. “Tony will be using his deep knowledge of microwave, UHF and VHF technologies. He will be programming and maintaining radio gear, which connects researchers and technicians in the field to the main base as well as holding responsibility for station communications outward to the rest of the world.”
[Check out webcams at McMurdo Station.]
In addition to his technical experience Abfalter can draw on familiarity with work in temperature extremes. He’s a Minnesota native with cold weather survival experience and EMR/SAR training with the Holdingford Fire Department.
Temperatures during his stay are expected to go as low as –20 degrees Fahrenheit.
His employer plans to keep track of his adventures on its website. Leighton added that Abfalter is excited to work with an international community of researchers and maintenance personnel requiring him to draw on his communication skills “and possibly heretofore unused pantomime abilities.”
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