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NEWS | May 11, 2023

The Intrigue of problem-solving is a driving force for NSWCDD software developer

By Diana Stefko, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

There is a reason why crime-fighting shows, murder mysteries and whodunit thrillers intrigue and entice so many audiences. Following the clues, piecing the puzzles together and making analytical conclusions are all done in the name of trying to solve the mystery or figuring out who was the culprit. It’s a challenge that appeals to our curiosity.

Emerson Bonga enjoyed engaging his problem-solving mentality and skills to find the answers when watching shows, movies or reading books in the genre. Throughout his education and career journey at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), his interest and aptitude were evident.

“Growing up, I used to watch shows like NCIS and CSI and would try to solve the case with the detectives. It’s what made me want to go into the psychology field in the first place,” said Bonga. However, after attending an orientation where potential students learned about the various majors and programs offered at James Madison University (JMU), he decided computer science best aligned with his career goals. He earned his bachelor’s in computer science from JMU in 2018.

He joined the NSWCDD workforce as a contractor in the fall of 2018 and then transitioned into a government position where he has been working as one of the leading software developers for the Digital Modeling Division within the Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department for the past five years.

“I saw a job posting at a contract company here in Virginia and how they had Navy contracts that they were looking for new hires to support. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to start my professional career,” Bonga said. “I would still be a reasonable distance from my family while also supporting the Navy that had been a big part of my childhood.”

Developing software systems requires Bonga’s solution-based thinking and technical knowledge.

As a versatile developer, he supported Fleet Kill Chain Analysis and Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration and Modeling, a software simulation tool used as an engagement and mission-level operations analytic simulation environment.

He is also heavily involved in the software development and integration of systems communications capabilities for the Modeling and Simulation Toolbox and the Integrated Threat Analysis Simulation Environment. “We have many tools that we’re responsible for and, for the most part, I’m responsible for the behaviors of the models, such as how you want the models to react to a simulation,” said Bonga. “We work closely with the Mission Analysis Branch within our division so they can do their part in analyzing data generated from our modeling and simulation tools.”

As a son of a Navy veteran, Bonga has vested interest in supporting the Navy and its mission.

Born in Concord, California, Bonga and his family moved every two to three years – across the U.S. to Japan, Italy and back stateside to West Virginia and Virginia. “The Navy has always been a part of my life. When I had the opportunity to fully support systems software development here at Dahlgren, I knew it was my way of giving back to our nation.”

Both of his parents migrated to the United States from the Philippines as young adults with his father’s side settling in Long Island, New York and most of his mother’s side staying in the Philippines. His father joined the Navy soon after moving to the U.S. and has enjoyed a successful 20-year career.

Bonga travels to the Philippines when possible to visit extended family who he says have always been welcoming, friendly and loving. He enjoys incorporating Filipino traditions and culture, such as traditional dishes and music, into his everyday life as well as when spending time with his family. “It’s a tradition to have karaoke at any Filipino party, so I grew up listening to different kinds of music,” he said. “I grew up eating good food like chicken adobo and sinigang soup, and my parents still give me containers full to take home.”