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Home : Home : Warfare Centers : NSWC Dahlgren : NSWCDD STEM : Programs

Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren

  • Series of unique competitions where students learn new technical skills in engineering and then put those skills to the test in competition against teams from across the region
  • High school robotics challenge annually since 2022
  • First annual collegiate challenge in 2023
  • First annual middle school robotics challenge in 2024
  • Robotics challenges include goals to navigate difficult terrain, capture and transport objects, and take photographs of important items
  • Prizes have included cash, robotics platforms, 3D printers, and scholarships


In-Class Robotics

  • Mentors bring robotics kits appropriate for elementary and middle school students to give kids a chance to try programming them to complete tasks


Coding Clubs

  • Dahlgren mentors go into classrooms to teach introductory software development fundamentals
  • Offered at elementary, middle, and high school levels
  • Content and resources are provided by NSWCDD
  • Goal is to introduce coding and serve as a catalyst for creation of coding clubs at local schools


STEM Clubs

  • Elementary, middle, and high School after-school clubs that meet with a Dahlgren mentor weekly for hands-on demos and engineering activities



  • Middle and high school students build an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from scratch with the help of Dahlgren mentors and educators
  • Dahlgren provides tools and materials for ROVs
  • Annual competition for regional schools to compete in challenges to navigate their ROV through a series of underwater obstacles
  • Winners from regional competition move on to compete nationally


Career Talks and Mock Interviews

  • Dahlgren scientists and engineers visit schools to discuss and answer career, education, and technical questions from middle and high school students


Summer Middle School STEM Academy

  • Multiday summer camp hosted at King George Middle School with hands-on STEM activities & information to increase interest in STEM disciplines and careers
  • Past activities have included:
    • Navy Navy-focused robotic missions
    • STEM-career discussions & speakers
    • Balsa wood tower design
    • Foil-boat engineering
    • Lab demos


Community Outreach

  • STEM Nights & STEM Expos
    • Local STEM events focused on bringing many science and organizations together to offer hands-on experiences for students
  • Career & Internship Fairs
    • STEM advocates attend many regional events to provide information on internship and career opportunities at NSWCDD
  • Dahlgren Downtown
    • Event hosted in downtown Fredericksburg to give local citizens and students a chance to learn about NSWCDD’s past, present, and future


Resources and Professional Development for Educators

  • STEM Activities and Resources available [Would like to link this to a landing page for STEM resources]
  • Robotics Trainings
  • Partnership with University of Mary Washington College of Education