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NEWS | July 18, 2022

From Automotive to Naval Engineering: Shawn Schneider’s Path to NSWC Dahlgren Division

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

The passion for automotive testing takes a shocking turn to naval engineering for Shawn Schneider, a subject matter expert at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). At a young age, Schneider developed a love for automotives while fixing up four-wheelers and working on bicycles. His passion for automotive engineering grew every day.

Schneider started his academic journey in his home state of South Carolina, attending Clemson University. During his time there, he studied automotive engineering and landed an exciting internship working on large vehicle projects for the U.S. Marine Corps and Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements in the Nevada Desert. The projects he worked on sparked his interest in testing and instrumentation. After attending graduate school at Virginia Tech, Schneider discovered how his skills could be used within the Department of Defense (DoD).

NSWCDD recruiters pursue graduate students from across the country with skillsets like Schneider’s. With his background in research for control systems and vibration testing, they reached out to him and offered him a career that was a perfect match. “It caught my interest when that email came across and I just took a chance on coming to see what the Navy offered,” says Schneider. “Sure enough, I was then headhunted for exactly the kind of work that I love to do.”

Schneider has covered plenty of ground during his 12 years at NSWCDD. As a senior dynamicist and environmental testing instrumentation engineer in the Integrated Engagement Systems Department, he conducts the physical dynamic testing of structures and oversees the technical aspects of vibration testing.

From sustained leadership, revolutionizing the Navy’s testing research, massive growth in competency and capability at Dahlgren, Schneider continues to impact NSWCDD. Schneider strives to “create state-of-the-art technology, bring all warfare centers together to the highest ability and promote Multiple Degree of Freedom (MDOF) shaker testing.” One of Schneider’s biggest successes at Dahlgren has been MDOF shaker testing, and he hopes to bring it to other warfare centers to better the DoD as a whole and to rewrite military standards with improved technology.

He especially values the hands-on experience, where he shows up to work in dirty blue jeans, steel toe boots and leaves with grease under his nails and busted knuckles from turning wrenches all day. Schneider considers the work he does at NSWCDD to be one of his passions. But when he’s not at work, Schneider loves to spend time with his family outdoors. He is always looking for the next adventure, whether it be biking with friends or hunting in the mountains of Denver.

If Schneider has learned one thing in his time as a dad and engineer it is to remember you always must start somewhere, and to succeed, you must first overcome obstacles. “The hands-on experience is invaluable and indispensable,” says Schneider. “It is the best way to learn.”