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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2023

NISE TEM 2023: NUWC Division, Keyport’s biggest-ever event a ‘resounding success’

By Frank Kaminski, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport

This has been a year of firsts for the annual Naval Innovative Science and Engineering Technical Exchange Meeting, held at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, Sept. 12-14.

This NISE TEM marked the first time NUWC Division, Keyport had ever hosted the event or one of its magnitude. It was also the first NISE TEM in which the Navy’s five University Affiliated Research Centers—vital nodes in its overall research and development ecosystem—had participated.

It was even a first for Michael Balazs: namely, the very first networking event he says ever yielded him a tangible outcome. Balazs, a software engineer from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division—Webster Outlying Field, found multiple potential collaboration partners from among his fellow NISE-TEM attendees and made firm plans to begin working with one of them the week after the event.

“Until now I’ve never been at a networking event where my conversations with people at that event went on to actively change how I approached my project and yield real, positive, tangible results for multiple projects,” Balazs said. Balazs added that the collaborations he sees arising from his participation in this year’s NISE TEM promise to save him and his team years of development that they would have otherwise had to do on their own.

His experience speaks volumes about the success of this year’s NISE TEM, since the whole aim of the event is to bring together scientists and engineers from across the Navy R&D enterprise to showcase their latest research and discover potential opportunities for collaboration and synergy.

More than 400 people attended this year’s NISE TEM, which took place largely in outdoor canopy tents pitched in the parking lot of the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum located just off base. Poster sessions and panels—of which there were 136 and 16, respectively—occupied the first two days of the event, while the final day was devoted to tours of various NUWC Division, Keyport departments and facilities.

In accordance with this year’s theme, “Pacific Dominance,” the posters and panels were focused on projects aimed at maintaining the U.S. Navy’s decisive technical advantage in its capabilities, said NUWC Division, Keyport Chief Technology Officer Aaron Darnton.

“We’re trying to very clearly draw a connection between what is a decisive technical advantage for the fleet in terms of the work and the deliverables the fleet needs for the Naval research and development enterprise,” said Darnton.

Dr. Brett Seidle, Senior Executive for Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, delivered the keynote address.

Seidle said the NISE TEM helps forge vital connections among the various Naval R&D organizations, including Navy systems commands, the UARCs, the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Laboratory.

“All those organizations have to work together collaboratively, and when we bring technical talent like this together, it helps build that synergy,” Seidle said.

Seidle also stressed the vital role of the Navy’s RDT&E enterprise in countering threats from our national adversaries.

“Our RDT&E enterprise is critically important for what the Navy faces today and what the Navy is going to face tomorrow with our adversaries,” said Seidle. “If we’re ever drawn into a conflict, our success is going to be predicated on our technical advantage and the interoperability of our systems, and that same technical advantage is driven by the folks who make up our NR&DE—Naval Research & Development Establishment. The individuals here today who are working on these game-changing technologies have the ability to transform how our Navy fights.”

The aforementioned Balazs was one of many attendees who said they’d made valuable networking connections at this year’s NISE TEM.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Division, Panama City Mechanical Engineer Jonathan Davis, when interviewed during the opening poster session on day one, said he’d already had multiple productive exchanges. “We’re all bouncing ideas,” said Davis. “I’ve had several people come by and ask me, ‘What do you think about this?’; ‘Oh, we’re working on something similar; we should talk.’”

Evan Savaria, a computer scientist at NSWC Division, Dahlgren said the event made him aware of a lot of interesting projects and allowed him to connect with potential collaborators he hadn’t previously known existed.

“I’ve found a couple of projects that kind of relate to what I’m doing,” said Savaria. “So later, after this event, we’re going to exchange emails. We’re going to collaborate and hopefully put two of our projects together into a bigger idea. We can work together to solve a hard problem.”

Aerospace engineer John Lawton, also of NSWC Division, Dahlgren, spoke of the many in-depth, fruitful discussions he’d been able to have with fellow attendees from other commands whose work intersects with various facets of his. “This [NISE TEM] has been great,” said Lawton. “A lot of connections like that for me personally.”

NUWC Division, Keyport faced a daunting challenge in hosting an event of this scale. Both Darnton and Command Quality System Consultant and NISE-TEM Coordinator Bryan Stone said it was the largest event the command has ever held, as measured by the number of entities represented and the complex logistical arrangements required to coordinate their attendance.

One of the biggest hurdles was finding a space large enough to accommodate the expected number of guests. It was when no sufficiently large building could be found that Stone and the rest of the planning team arranged with the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum to hold an outdoor tented conference in the museum’s parking lot.

The overwhelmingly positive response from attendees reflects NUWC Division, Keyport’s success in rising to the logistical challenges. Stone called this year’s NISE TEM a “resounding success,” and Seidle—citing the three-minute-long standing ovation given to the 100-volunteer-strong event staff when the conference first kicked off—echoed this sentiment.

So did NSWC Division, Carderock Technical Program Manager Sougata Biswas, who praised how well organized everything was. "I'm very impressed by the level of organization,” Biswas said. “The poster sessions, keynote speakers and food were all figured out, as well as the directions to the Keyport base."

Next year’s NISE TEM will be hosted by NSWC Division, Crane, Sept. 10-11, 2024.


About Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport
NUWC Keyport provides advanced technical capabilities for test and evaluation, in-service engineering, maintenance and industrial base support, fleet material readiness, and obsolescence management for undersea warfare to expand America’s undersea dominance.