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NEWS | June 27, 2023

Inclusivity, community and warfighter mentality – NSWC Dahlgren Division scientist makes a difference

By Morgan Tabor, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) scientist Corey Gates is committed to supporting the Navy’s mission. Gates has a keen eye for system engineering and software development. He’s also committed to transforming and building unity within his community.

Gates’ passion for computers started at a young age. He enjoyed playing videos games and taking computer classes at school. “Many people may have found these classes to be boring, but not me,” said Gates. “I always found a way to get some kind of computer class into my school coursework.”

Originally, Gates’s goal was to become a video game designer. “I decided to Google what degree I would need to become a game designer and I stumbled upon computer scientist,” he said. “That was it for me; it was that moment that I decided to pursue that field.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and is currently enrolled in the school’s master’s program.

Gates possesses a creative mindset and the ability to think outside the box. After graduating from VCU, a close friend approached him and spoke about the good work he could be doing at Dahlgren to support the warfighter.

“What intrigued me most about working for NSWCDD was the variety of different career paths someone can take,” Gates said. “I was still figuring out which route I wanted to go at the time, so I was relieved to know that Dahlgren offered flexibility.”

As a software developer, system engineer and a project lead for the Modeling and Simulation Tools Branch, Gates is dedicated to supporting the Navy’s mission. “I was always curious about the other roles when being on a development team. Dahlgren opened the door for me to see the different directions with testing, user experience or even interfacing with the customers,” said Gates. “I was able to explore all of those options, which was really great.”

After five years of dedicated service, Gates recently received the “Just Do It” award for his work within the Modeling and Simulation Tools Branch. According to the citation, the award recognizes “individuals who continually get things done with little or no guidance or oversight and increase organizational efficiencies at the project, department and/or at a command level.”

He currently serves as the lead for two projects within a baseline of model base system engineering efforts. He has made a large career footprint at Dahlgren thus far, including serving as a project lead for the Infrastructure for Rapidly Updating Mission Models, Blue Force Technical Baseline and leading the Model Based System Engineering Initiative for the Modeling and Simulation Tools Branch.

“I truly enjoy working for my department at NSWCDD,” said Gates. “The innovation, creativeness and high energy is what attracted me to wanting to work with them.” 

As part of the LGBTQ+ community, he dedicates his time and energy to providing professional educational resources for rising and experienced LGBTQ+ professionals.

Gates is heavily involved in the local non-profit, PatchworkRVA, where he serves as vice president. The organization’s mission is to make Richmond a more equitable place for all. The non-profit’s Richmond Inclusive Space for Excellence is a LGBTQ+ professional development program which specializes in career mentorship.

The mentors are LGBTQ+ community members who share their varying industry experiences and knowledge with mentees so they too can achieve their professional and personal life goals. As the R.I.S.E. mentorship program coordinator, Gates is able to tie the work he does at Dahlgren into the community.

In the near future, he hopes to launch a Black-owned game developer group, which would be an avenue for up-and-coming programmers of color to pursue video game development. Gates hopes the group will serve as a bridge for middle and high school students to get a head start in the career through internships and interaction with professional developers.

“To be able to take in young developers of color and expose them to these resources is an exciting goal of mine,” said Gates. “My younger self would be proud of who I am today and all that I have accomplished.”

Gates is revered for his leadership, innovative thinking and dedication to NSWCDD as well as the LGBTQ+ community. “You have to keep going and never accept no for an answer. The ability to persevere is key to success,” he said.