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Home : Media : News : Article View
NEWS | June 30, 2023

NSWCDD hosts Norfolk State University

By Madeline Keenan, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

After a three-hour early morning bus ride, college students arrived to the Innovation Lab at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) for what would become an eye-opening experience.

Norfolk State University (NSU) students traveled to NSWCDD along with Dr. Leroy Salary, a school outreach leader and physics faculty member, for a day of presentations and demonstrations.

Students met with NSWCDD officials and staff to discuss a wide variety of topics, such as the internship process, career options and potential research partnerships. During each presentation, students were eager to ask presenters how they found NSWCDD, advice for college students looking to start careers with the Department of Defense and technical questions about some of the demonstrations.

NSWCDD Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift kicked off the day’s activities by thanking students for taking time out of their summer vacation to visit and started delving into some of the innovative programs offered at NSWCDD for students to conduct research.

“Today, you are going to hear about internship opportunities and about the hands-on research and development we perform at NSWC Dahlgren Division,” Clift said. 

During the tour, students visited the Optical Dazzling Interdictor Navy and other laser lethality facilities, watched the Battle Management System AR/VR demonstration and toured the Hypersonic Test Facility.

Students also networked with NSU alumni currently employed at NSWCDD. Optical engineer Chelsea Duncan-Bumpers was one of the NSWCDD employees who had a chance to show students around several labs. Duncan-Bumpers, a 2017 NSU graduate, found it inspiring to see the partnership between her employer and alma mater.

“Since I started at NSWCDD in 2018, I’ve wanted to start a partnership with NSU,” Duncan-Bumpers said. “NSU offers a very in-depth hands-on curriculum that allows its students to gain experience. The labs and courses it offers ties into what we are doing here in directed energy.”

Duncan-Bumpers made her way to NSWCDD after obtaining a degree in optical engineering with minors in mathematics and physics.

NSWCDD Technical Director Dale Sisson, Jr., SES, spoke to students about the impact they can make in the future. “We really appreciate the partnership with Norfolk State University and we are excited to show students the great work we have going on,” Sisson said. “We hope it gives you some insight into what it looks like to work in a Navy, DoD kind of environment. We have a very serious mission, but we have a lot of fun executing our mission.”

Sisson mentioned the opportunities NSWCDD offers undergraduates.

“Our experience shows that new hires want to practice what they’ve studied, work in a strong team environment and contribute to a mission,” Sisson said. “You have the ability to do that here.”

Sisson then answered questions from students on a wide range of topics.

Head of Recruiting and Student Outreach Susan Tubman also spoke to students about what NSWCDD looks for in employment and internship candidates.

“We seek candidates with a STEM background or those who majored in STEM fields,” Tubman said. “We are looking for people that have passion for the careers they are going into, and I think you all saw that in the individuals you met today.”

NSWCDD recently established an Education Partnership Agreement (EPA) with NSU. 

“An EPA encourages and enhances the study of STEM disciplines and allows us to increase technology and knowledge transfer between NSWCDD and academic institutions. Partnering with NSU is a tremendous opportunity. We are excited about the collaborative research, faculty engagement, and student recruiting opportunities that resulted from this visit,” Clift said. 

Salary emphasized the importance of forming strong bonds within the STEM community. He said it is encouraging for students to get a first-hand look at the innovation occurring at NSWCDD.

“Our students see that they can contribute to something that is growing,” Salary said. “As STEM majors, it is important to realize that we still have so much work to do.”