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NEWS | March 7, 2022

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Executive Shares Engineering Insights during NSWC Philadelphia Division’s National Engineers Week Event

By Richard Locklear, Naval Foundry and Propeller Center Public Affairs Specialist

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) celebrated day three of National Engineers Week with a continued focus on the official theme of “Reimagining the Possible” on Feb. 24, 2022.

NSWCPD’s Acting Technical Director Nigel Thijs opened the day’s events by acknowledging the organization’s rich engineering history.

“Since our founding in 1910, the Philadelphia Division and its predecessor organizations have performed engineering services and developed both component machinery prototypes and subsystems, and complete integrated prototype machinery systems,” he said.

Thijs also took a moment to recognize NSWCPD’s longest serving and newest engineers who “embody NSWCPD’s dedication to a lifetime of support and highlight that we are always growing and evolving.”

NSWCPD Daniel Miller, NSWCPD’s longest-serving engineer, reflected on his decades-long career and the very real impact that NSWCPD employees have on the fleet.

“I took a count and realized I had been in 11 different positions over my 43-year career,” Miller said. “I hope all of you joining us today appreciate the importance of what you do for the command and for the Navy on a daily basis, and how you truly make a difference.”

NSWCPD’s newest engineer Christopher Canales started working for NSWCPD in mid-February 2022.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region III Administrator Jack Giessner served as the event’s main speaker. He is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served 13 years on active duty as a submarine officer, including time spent as chief engineer aboard USS Lapon (SSN 661) and USS William H. Bates (SSN 680), as well as served as a staff officer at U.S. Strategic Command.

Giessner provided his insights into the engineering field through two case studies, the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, and the degradation of reactor vessel heads at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. He encouraged the audience to use these examples as a way to improve their own problem-solving skills by learning from past mistakes.

“The details are important,” Giessner said. “You can’t summarize engineering issues simply.”

Giessner also emphasized the importance of teamwork and communication, so as to avoid working in the type of “silos” that cause important information to get lost.

“Nobody can work in a silo, and as we know issues are hard, and you need to communicate,” he said while adding, “If you can’t self-reflect, the organization can’t get better.”

Following a question and answer session with Giessner, Thijs thanked him for his time and in particular his insight into the Fukushima incident, where Giessner was present assisting the U.S. Ambassador there on behalf of the U.S. government.

“It was really great to hear about the experiences and lessons learned from Fukushima as many of us here worked through the effects of that event, addressing the many ship system impacts of radiological contamination in the fleet, and our lessons learned helped drive inspections and mitigations that are still in place to this day,” Thijs said.