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NEWS | June 30, 2023

NUWC Division Newport’s Bring a Child to Work Day engages kids in STEM careers, Navy traditions

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Hundreds of employees and their children — or grandchildren, nieces or nephews — roamed the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport campus on June 23 for Bring a Child to Work Day, the annual event with dozens of demonstrations designed to give kids a glimpse of what their family members do for work.

“I want to welcome everyone to Bring a Child to Work Day. We have a great schedule of events today as you go around,” Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings said to a crowd of more than 100 employees and children gathered around the command flagpole just before the start of morning colors. “I hope you have a good time here and see a little bit about what your moms and dads do while they’re here at NUWC Division Newport.”

Morning colors, at 8 a.m., served as the unofficial start of the event, as children learned from Division Newport’s Military Detachment (MILDET) how to observe the tradition and properly fold a flag.

A special guest also joined the MILDET in formation for colors. Garret Speer, 10, a member of the Natchaug River Young Marines in Danielson, Connecticut, who attended with his father, Patrick, an engineer in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department.

“I talked to Captain Hennings a few weeks ago about Garret joining them for colors and he said he was more than welcome to stand at rank,” Patrick Speer said. “Garret also had to get permission from his unit commander to wear his uniform. It was a very cool moment and definitely a highlight for the day.”

There were plenty of other highlights around the Division Newport campus for the 470 children who attended the event.

As Ed Giarnese, a technical project manager in the Combat Systems Department, folded origami in the Corporate Research and Information Center, his nine-year-old daughter, Olivia, colored in a picture of a submarine. These were just two of the many activities available in the library, which hosted a scavenger hunt, collaborative art piece using recyclables, puzzles and the board game Battleship.

Giarnese said he and his daughter had a blast moving around from one demonstration to another, and she was particularly excited because it’s the first time she has been allowed to attend Bring a Child to Work Day, which is designed for children ages 9-17.

“I love it. You get to see who your parents work for and think about if you want to work there one day when you grow up,” Olivia said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

It was a similar experience for Pat Faerber, an engineer in the Undersea Warfare Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, whose first stop with his children was the Open Tank Facility.

“My daughter was so excited this year,” Faerber said. “This is the first year she’s been old enough to attend.”

Faerber and others looked on as Miguel Vega, Tom Dziekan, Matthew Eires and Cameron Castillo, all from the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate how sound travels through water.

Children edged ever closer to see what was happening in the fish tank as Vega moved the hydrophone closer to the music playing in the water. As he put different objects in the path of the underwater sounds waves, Harry Styles’ song “As It Was” grew quieter or louder.

The always-popular visit to the Acoustic Wind Tunnel, which can simulate sustained winds of up 120 mph. That would classify as a Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane, according to George Loubimov, an employee in the Undersea Warfare Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, who led the demonstration.

For this event, the wind was set at 60 mph, though that still packed a decent punch, evidenced by the fact it blew a hat from a child’s head.

“That was more powerful than anything I’ve been in. I’d say I’ve been in maybe 40 mph at the most,” said Isabel Gilchrest, 17, who will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall and majored in computer science.

Gilchrest attended with her sister Evelyn, 13, her friend Mikaylee Lemanski, 17, and her mother Yadira Gilchrest, of the Deputy Technical Director/Technical Excellence Department, who has been an employee at Division Newport for 23 years.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for the kids to see different things that you can’t verbally explain,” Yadira Gilchrest said.

A new attraction at Bring a Child to Work Day this year was a tour of the Survivability Test Laboratory.

The first stop was a pressure tank measuring 5 feet in diameter and 13 feet in depth. By placing objects in the water-filled tank, scientists can apply up to 3,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, simulating water pressure at 1,300 feet below the surface of the ocean.

“The goal is to prevent materials from failing under pressure,” Matthew Kotce, a mechanical engineer in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, said. “We showed the visitors what happens when something fails the pressure test by displaying a mangled aluminum buoy.”

Stephen Lauzon, also a Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department mechanical engineer, brought the employees and their guests into an Anechoic Chamber. The chamber’s interior walls are covered with wedges of firm foam, absorbing all sound. 

“A submarine must remain as silent as possible,” Lauzon said. “When we test equipment in here, we can get an accurate measurement of how much sound is produced.”

Lauzon proceeded to show visitors a temperature chamber, used to evaluate how materials respond when exposed to extremely cold temperatures; a vibration natural frequency test using a strobe light; and a medium-weight shock machine, which tests the fragility of components and devices by dropping a 3,000-pound hammer next to it.

“I wanted to show my 9-year-old daughter Abigail the important work we do here at Division Newport and foster her curiosity in science and math,” David Yamartino, a mechanical engineer in the Undersea Warfare Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, said.

Erin Oliveira, a scientist from Environmental Branch in the Corporate Operations Department, presented bones of marine mammals that have been donated to Division Newport for research purposes.

“The younger kids think it’s cool to see and touch a whale or dolphin bone,” Oliveira said. “With the older kids, it’s a little easier to describe scenarios in which the Navy might interact with these mammals.”

A Virtual Worlds exhibit showed children how the Navy uses immersive technology — like the video games with which they may be familiar — for training purposes by simulating real-world scenarios.

The Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department demonstrated a number of its capabilities and launchers. Two missiles flanked the entrance to the department’s building and employees Kelsey Dugan and Mindy Darosa explained the functionalities of each weapon to a large group.

“We had probably 100 people at our first demonstration of the day,” Darosa said. “The kids asked a lot of questions and were very intrigued. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a bunch of future engineers in that group.”

A video from the event is available here: 

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Career-Opportunities/ and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.