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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2023

Four NUWC Division Newport employees win Women of Color Magazine awards

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Four Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport employees recently won Women of Color Magazine awards. Dr. Irine Chenwi, principal investigator in the Applied Sciences and Structural Mechanics Branch of the Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department, and Karin Kaplan, branch head, Automation Algorithm Development Branch of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, each won the Technology Rising Star Award. Maria Diaz-Masterson, head, Sensors and Arrays Division of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, won a Technology All-Star Award, and Bancy Seale, an administrative and technical specialist in the Business Operations Branch of the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, won a Top Woman in Finance Award.

Rising Stars are women with 21 years or less in the workforce who are helping shape technology for the future. Technology All-Stars are accomplished women of color from mid-level to advanced stages of their careers with 22 or more years of experience that have demonstrated excellence in the workplace and in their community. Winners in the finance category are superstars in the financial sector, who are leaders in their field while promoting diversity and serving as a role model. 

“In the short time that Dr. Irine Chenwi has worked at Division Newport, she has been instrumental in shaping and developing the Navy's advancements in science and technology (S&T),” the award states.

While earning her doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Rhode Island (URI) in May 2021, she was funded by the Naval Engineering and Education Consortium through her advisor at URI to conduct research of key importance to the Navy. Dr. Chenwi, a resident of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, began her career at Division Newport as an intern in 2020 and later joined as a full-time employee in June 2021. One of her first projects involved evaluating the effects of salt water on the peel strength of Monel/polymer interfaces for the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department. Currently, Dr. Chenwi is working as the principal investigator on the project improvement of the fire, smoke and toxicity properties of additive manufacturing polymers.

“Over the past 21 years at Division Newport, Kaplan has earned a reputation as a talented leader,” the award states.

Kaplan, a resident of Bristol, Rhode Island, currently serves as the branch head for the Automation Algorithm Development Branch within the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department that includes approximately 30 civilians. Kaplan is the technical program manager for artificial intelligence/machine learning science and technology in the Science and Technology Division and is part of the larger community of practice at Division Newport.

“Over the past few years, Kaplan has been instrumental in identifying and hiring talent in the Science and Technology Division,” the award states.

She has participated in a number of Division Newport hiring events, as well as hiring events at various universities. With her years of experience, Kaplan also makes time to mentor several of the new branch heads in the department and in the division.

As the Sensors and Arrays Division head, Diaz-Masterson, a resident of Wakefield, Rhode Island, provides leadership and guidance to achieve the mission of the Division using the full breadth of her expertise in wet-end sensors system development. She currently manages over 150 civilian personnel in her division, who execute a multitude of tasking for the fleet. As a leader in her department with over 22 years' experience at Division Newport, Diaz-Masterson has worked to ensure common test rigor and systems engineering processes across our department.

“A champion for workforce development, she has identified opportunities for new engineers to shadow test directors while underway on submarines,” the award states.

In support of diversity and equity, Diaz-Masterson served as the Hispanic Special Emphasis Program Manager and remains committed in recruiting and mentoring, taking the time to mentor new professionals by offering advice and guidance on career development and strategies for success.

Seale is an administrative and technical specialist at Division Newport, and in this position, she manages various business and financial tasks within the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department.

“Seale successfully accomplishes all of this by leveraging her financial acumen and employing strong leadership skills,” the award states.

One of Seale's roles is as a program analyst/contract modifications lead. As such, she provides program support in contract analysis, trend analysis, risk assessment, and in the development of strategic planning, forecasting, and contract modification for decision making regarding the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) program. Seale also serves as a contracting officer's representative, where she provides oversight of contractor performance and contract execution to ensure financial and technical compliance with the contract terms and conditions.

“Over the past 18 years, her work has positively impacted the success of the warfighter and the U.S. Navy,” the award states.  

The winners will be honored at the Technology Recognition Event during the 2023 Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Digital Twin Experience Conference on Oct. 13, 2023.

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- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.