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By NSWCDD Corporate Communications
Before Michael Weisman became a whiz at augmented reality and virtual reality in the Weapons Control and Integration Department at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), he provided encouragement to youth who were seeking guidance.
The Brooklyn, New York native was a mentor with Outward Bound USA while living in his home state. He and other leaders conducted activities with at-risk youth, including taking them on hiking trips in wilderness areas, such as the Adirondack Mountains in northeastern New York.
“That’s where I learned the importance of interpersonal skills and dealing with people who necessarily don’t want to deal with you,” Weisman said. “I learned the power of mentorship and how much that can mean to people.”
Weisman, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City and a master’s in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech, sought after mentors when he arrived at NSWCDD in 2006.
He was intrigued to apply at NSWCDD after a friend told him he’d be able to perform “real engineering” there.
Weisman was less than two years into his career when he encountered NSWCDD employees attempting to track a bullet, with some believing there was no real way to do it.
“I thought, ‘If you take this piece of equipment here and you pull a piece from here and pull a piece from here and do some calculations, I think you could really track it fully,’” Weisman recalled. “People believed me and they let me do it. I tested it and it worked.”
After that experience, Weisman’s confidence blossomed.
He’s currently the augmented reality and virtual reality project lead in the Battle Management Systems (BMS) program within the Weapons Control and Integration Department.
He served as the lead instrumentation engineer across all five gun test ranges at NSWCDD from 2006-12. In that capacity, he regularly organized groups of between five to 20 engineers and technicians per test series.
Weisman redesigned, developed and maintained capabilities to measure gun dispersion, fall of shot for range tables, optical surveying and range telemetry.
In 2012, he became the NSWCDD 3D laser scanning subject matter expert (SME). He still holds that position while also serving as the BMS augmented reality and virtual reality project lead.
His role as the 3D laser scanning SME has been one of the most rewarding of his career. He developed multiple capabilities in metrology level precision survey techniques, reverse engineering, deformation analysis and part inspection. He helped establish capabilities in metal and plastic 3D printing and integrated virtual reality among other accomplishments.
Weisman said he’s perhaps most proud of his work in 3D laser scanning because “people told me that’s not a real job.”
“They told me it’s just instrumentation or it’s just a little piece,” Weisman said. “But I said ‘Alright. I’m going to make this as good as I can make it.’ At one point, I had my own little shop here on base. People would come to me and I had enough work for myself and another person for years. That turned into its own thing.”
Weisman thoroughly enjoys his role as the BMS augmented reality and virtual reality project lead, as well. He led a team of four developers who delivered a 30mm gun weapons system virtual trainer and supplemental iPad trainer application to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) schoolhouse, which was incorporated into the AFSOC syllabus. The team, which has grown to six developers, was designated as the government integrator in an effort to modernize AFSOC training.
Weisman prides himself on a willingness to try new things.
“There are times when people don’t want to do any of the new type of stuff,” Weisman said. “They get comfortable with what has worked in the past. I like to go out and do stuff that no one’s doing because there is a space for it. If we really think about it, there’s not much out there that we can’t do.”