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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2023

Academic Recognition Ceremony Honors NSWCDD Workforce

By Taft Coghill Jr., NSWCDD Corporate Communications

When Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) scientists and engineers achieve advanced degrees, it’s not only a benefit to them professionally, but also makes the division more equipped for facing complex challenges.

That was the message Commanding Officer Capt. Philip Mlynarski delivered to members of the workforce who attended the NSWCDD Academic Recognition Ceremony Oct. 26 at University of Mary Washington (UMW) Dahlgren Campus.

More than 180 people who dedicate their time and skill to NSWCDD were recognized for academic achievements and milestones.

“We look forward to the great and wonderful abilities you’re going to bring to the table with your newfound knowledge and skills,” Mlynarski told the group during the ceremony.

After Mlynarski’s welcome address, NSWCDD Technical Director Dale Sisson Jr., SES, provided opening remarks. 

Sisson stressed that his primary concern is ensuring that NSWCDD continues to thrive at its many responsibilities. He noted that this year, $4.3 million was allocated to workforce development, which he said sends the message that investing in the education of those who labor at NSWCDD is essential.

“We’re not going to relax in that area,” Sisson said. “We’re always going to invest in our people. You’re not going to find many corporations or government entities that dedicate that piece of the pie to graduate education, certificates and other student programs.”

The ceremony honored members of the NSWCDD workforce who achieved associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, doctorates and certifications.

Sisson said continuing education is important to the mission of NSWCDD.

“I want us to continue to be focused on advancing the number of folks who add credentials, and then adding them in the right areas,” he said. “We’ll lean on our leadership team to continue to identify those right areas to pursue.”

Dr. John Burrow, a lecturer at UMW, recognized individuals who completed UMW project management certifications and master’s in business administration.

Burrow said there are several reasons to seek higher education, including professional growth and the opportunity to learn something new.

According to Burrow, it’s an “obligation for all employees to pursue this type of education because it elevates how you think and how you discover new ideas and innovation.”

“Let me tell you from somebody that’s watched this from the top,” Burrow said. “It is absolutely critical that the scientists, the engineers, the business practitioners continue to pursue new learning opportunities so we can advance the state of the art and our warfighting capabilities in all domains.”

NSWCDD Workforce Development Branch head Susan Botkin was on hand to recognize the 2024 academic fellowship recipients who were competitively selected. The Academic Fellowship is designed to assist NSWCDD employees in completing their degrees by providing time at work to study and attend classes in approved programs.

During Mlynarski’s closing remarks, he highlighted the importance of the workforce continuing academic pursuits while enduring the trials of adulthood.

“You’re not quite 18 anymore, just jumping into college out of high school,” Mlynarski said. “But continue to go on. Continue to have that drive to make yourself better.”