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NEWS | Oct. 5, 2023

NUWC Division, Keyport division head earns Montana State alumni award

By Frank Kaminski, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport

Montana State University presented Libby Solomon, Undersea Systems Acquisition and Assessment division head at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport, with a 2023 Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Award during a ceremony at the university’s Bozeman, Montana campus, Sept. 29.

According to MSU, the award honors individuals “who have distinguished themselves professionally and have a record of exemplary service to the community and/or Montana State University.”

Solomon earned her Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from MSU in 2003. When she first learned she had been selected for this award, she was humbled by the acknowledgement.

"It was entirely unexpected," said Solomon. “And then I got pretty emotional about it, because I had never considered myself being a potential recipient of this award. I always thought it was reserved for the CEOs, the presidents, the vice presidents of companies, the folks who are retiring and coming back and guest lecturing at the college.”

Her surprise also stemmed from the fact that she had never seen her relationship with MSU as exceptional or unique. “I was raised in a home where my parents consistently modeled the idea that you give back to the institutions and community that raised you so that they can continue to give to others,” said Solomon during her acceptance speech.

Solomon added that she sees the award as validation of the effort she’s put into maintaining a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with her alma mater over the past two decades.

NUWC Division, Keyport recruited Solomon straight out of MSU, and shortly into her tenure at the command, she herself became a recruiter. Her recruiting partnership with MSU has been especially beneficial, with Solomon actively engaging with students in various ways to help set them up for success in their careers, whether with NUWC Division, Keyport or elsewhere.

“She has consistently recruited alumni from our college to come and work for Naval Sea Systems Command,” said Brett Gunnink, Dean of Engineering at the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. “And she mentors those same students. She's recognized on campus—particularly within the women engineering community—as a leader who is interested in serving as a mentor and a role model for young women as they advance in their careers as engineers.”

Christine Foreman, Associate Dean for Student Success at the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, said Solomon’s name “would always come up when we were talking about talented alumni, people who really have been engaging with the college and coming back to recruit.”

Solomon jokingly commented during her acceptance speech that she’s “been accused on a few occasions of trying to repopulate the command with bobcats [referring to the school mascot].” But she went on to state that the sheer number of MSU alumni who have assumed leadership positions at NUWC Division, Keyport is a testament to “the quality of education and students coming out of MSU.”

In addition to her recruiting efforts at MSU, Solomon has served as a guest speaker for the university’s Women in Engineering program and is currently president of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering department at the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

An external body composed of MSU alumni, this board evaluates the college’s curriculum to ensure it aligns with current industry needs. Board members also meet with students to assist them with their resumes and with job interview preparation.

Foreman lauded Solomon as a role model for aspiring female engineers. “I think it's really important for young women to see strong role models who demonstrate success not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives, showing how to strike a balance within a career,” said Foreman. “Libby’s engagement with the Women in Engineering program is exemplary in that regard.”

Gunnink said Solomon is among the youngest MSU alumni to have received a Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Award. He added that “it will be exciting to see what professional accomplishments she has in the future and how she continues to contribute to the profession and her alma mater.”

Solomon expressed gratitude for the supportive work environment she’s enjoyed at NUWC Division, Keyport and said she looks forward to many more years at the command.


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.