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By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs
Emerging technologies developed by small businesses with potential U.S. Navy applications took center stage during the second annual Blue Tech Demo Day hosted by the Northeast Tech Bridge at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Narragansett Bay Test Facility on Aug. 31.
Seven companies showcased their products — which ranged from mobile solar farms to micro-sized autonomous vehicles — before interested Division Newport employees.
“The goal of today is to get the scientists and engineers from our campus to learn more about these small businesses,” said Julie Kallfelz, who was named the first full-time director of the Northeast Tech Bridge in January.
“They each have different technologies that we know are of particular interest to our engineers on campus. So our goal is to introduce the companies and technologies and then support potential ongoing work together.”
Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings, fresh off attending Defense Innovation Days hosted by the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, welcomed the entrepreneurs to Division Newport.
“I know you’re all small companies, which I think is critical to the industrial base,” Hennings said. “I think that’s where a lot of the innovation happens, when you get out of the large, big-box contractors that are out there. That’s what I’ve seen in my three years on the job here — a lot of great ideas, a lot of great technology gets built at companies like yours.
“Thank you for coming out, because the efforts you do are the capabilities of tomorrow, and they are critical for our nation’s security and safety.”
Division Newport has made a commitment to contracting with small businesses, dedicating 42% of funds totaling $299 million to such companies in fiscal year 2022.
Christian Cowan, the executive director of the 401 Tech Bridge, a nonprofit organization that works alongside the Northeast Tech Bridge to connect NUWC with non-traditional suppliers throughout New England, attended the Demo Day.
“Rhode Island is called the Silicon Valley for undersea technologies for a reason,” Cowan said. “There is a tremendous amount of fantastic technology here locally that we’re looking to accelerate very quickly and plug into the Navy.”
Companies that were represented, include:
Highlights for Division Newport employees
Chris Hixenbaugh, a member of the Unmanned Undersea Systems Development and Acquisition Branch in Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department, has a heightened interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Hixenbaugh was eager to hear the presentation from Eva Technology Corp.’s founder, Onen, about the company’s advanced hardware.
“Their technology presented was very exciting, and it can provide us the capability to update our models in real time on deployed systems using edge devices,” Hixenbaugh said. “This is specifically applicable to our unmanned systems.”
Paula Farina, chief engineer in the Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, said she wanted to learn more about up-and-coming technologies, specifically with unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs).
Contracts Department staffer Alexandra Cordts said she works on a lot of Partnership Intermediary Agreements (PIAs) with the 401 Tech Bridge and “thought it would be interesting to hear about some of the technology and meet some of the people who we work with on a regular basis.”
Michael Smith, an engineer in the Ranges, Engineering and Analysis Department, was particularly focused on R&D Technologies “because of their work in 3D printing. That can help me with some of my research,” he said.
Kallfelz said the scientists and engineers who attended the Blue Tech Demo Day event were in “listen mode” to learn more about the companies and the technologies being presented. She said the Northeast Tech Bridge can provide follow-up support should there be an interest.
“Coming out of today, we should have a very clear understanding on the part of our engineers which of these companies have technologies we might have interest in working with and possibly integrating into our projects,” she said.
The next Northeast Tech Bridge Demo Day is being planned for late October, when vendors will be highlighting technology involving UUVs.
To learn more about the Northeast Tech Bridge, visit: https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Partnerships/Tech-Bridge/
A video from the Demo Day is posted 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.