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NEWS | May 4, 2022

NSWC Panama City leader opens doors to a new chapter in life

By Shauna Love-vonKnoblauch | NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Robert Walker, deputy technical director for technical excellence at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), is beginning to write the next chapter of his life. After 35 years of devoted service to the federal government, he is saying farewell to friends and team at NSWC PCD.

When asked what he liked most about NSWC PCD, he said hands down, the people.

 “I have been blessed beyond measure to work with great people my entire career at the command.  From my first day on the job until my last, people are what makes the difference,” Walker said. “Of course, I enjoyed the challenge of the work and the satisfaction of serving our country and the service members that protect the freedom we all enjoy; but the people are the ‘secret sauce’ that makes it all possible.”

Walker, a native of Ozark, Ala., received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Auburn University. He began his professional career in 1987 with the Naval Coastal System Center in Panama City, Fla. as a computer engineer and software developer. Early assignments included the design and development of real-time software, modeling and simulation, and hardware integration. 

Walker’s career has allowed him numerous highlights throughout the years, starting with the Counter Measure Evaluator (CME), then in the Expeditionary Warfare mission area where he was a lead software developer, senior systems engineer, branch head, project manager and ultimately the program manager responsible for all aspects of the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) program at NSWC PCD.

Walker said the most memorable part of his career was working directly with Fleet personnel. Walker served as a part of the LCAC program for 11 years.

“Throughout those years, I routinely interacted, on a personal level, with many fleet personnel across the country and around the world. Whether eliciting their needs for a new system, working hand in hand on user interface design, conducting underway training for navigators or teaching maintenance personnel how to repair their systems; it was all very rewarding,” stated Walker. “This direct interaction with our warfighters brings what we do as engineers into a laser sharp focus. What we do is not just a job; it is truly a calling—a calling that will always be the most memorable part of my career.”

Additionally, over his course of duty to serve the mission and the warfighter, Walker completed eight years of service in line management positions within the Mine Warfare mission area, completing assignments as division head and deputy department head.  He then went on to serve as NSWC PCD Chief Engineer (CHENG) where he led the command’s quest for Technical Excellence.

“I really enjoyed every role I held, but I would have to say the years I served as the command CHENG was my favorite role,” Walker said. “While I truly enjoyed a wide breadth of roles in my career, the CHENG role required me to focus my efforts on things that affected all of the technical efforts executed across the command.”

Walker said his main objective in the CHENG role was to ensure NSWC PCD implemented sufficient technical rigor through repeatable processes to enable delivery of consistent quality products and services to support the warfighter. 

“The intent here was never perfection, but rather regular evaluation of how we are doing followed by deliberate action to incrementally get better each time,” said Walker. “Technical Excellence is foundational to the future of NSWC PCD and it is what each of us should strive for in all we do.”

His advice to others hoping to achieve similar success: Be true to yourself and do not let someone else decide on your future or be limited by others.

Among an extensive list of pearls of wisdom he has gleaned throughout his career, Walker advocates in growth, perseverance, discipline, and having a healthy work-life balance.

“I encourage everyone to establish a North Star and continuously adjust course because you will get knocked off track. Invest in good mentors and be a good mentor to another – iron sharpens iron,” said Walker. “I have learned the importance of maintaining discipline in life throughout my career. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial.  Do not put success at work ahead of success at home.”

In February 2020, Walker was temporarily appointed as acting NSWC PCD Technical Director. Before that, in June 2017, he was selected for the Senior Scientific Technical Manager (SSTM) position as the NSWC PCD Deputy Technical Director for Technical Excellence, a position he has held until his retirement.

Walker expressed gratitude to the NSWC PCD team and his appreciation to serve.

“Thank you for what each of you do.  Your service to our country is a high calling that few answer. I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside such a great group of dedicated people over the last 35 years,” said Walker. “It has truly been an honor. You have great leadership and your future is bright. Embrace it and keep charging!  -May each of you have fair winds and following seas.”