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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2023

Carderock Engineer Receives Secretary of Defense Disability Award

By Edvin Hernandez, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs

WEST BETHESDA, Md. – Nebraska native Paul Luehr earned the 2023 Secretary of Defense Disability Award at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Oct. 26, 2023, for his exceptional contribution in advancing equal employment opportunity for individuals with a disability.

Luehr, who was one of 23 civilians and service members recognized for this award, has been a distinguished technical leader at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division for more than 36 years. He is currently the deputy director for Carderock’s Signature’s Department, but during his time with the command, he has served as an engineer and program manager, providing technical management and programmatic oversight of acoustic signatures for U.S. Navy submarines, surface ships, small craft and unmanned systems. 

While growing up in Wood River, Nebraska, Luehr suffered a traumatic left-handed injury as a five-year-old on his family’s farm. His injury forced him to start using his less dominant right-hand for daily support and required several reconstructive surgeries. Luehr completed extensive physical therapy to relearn how to use his left-hand again and worked hard to acclimate to his right.    

After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1987, Luehr joined Carderock where his responsibilities included laborious tasking. He performed significant hands-on efforts while supporting submarine equipment installations and excelled in his role. Although the work was physically demanding, Luehr said it required him to overcome the challenges of frequently climbing up and down vertical ladders and passageways as he completed the cabling and instrumentation of equipment onboard submarines.

Today, Luehr is a trusted leader in Carderock’s Signatures Department, which is comprised of about 700 scientists, engineers and support staff. The department operates on a multi-million-dollar annual budget, has five large support detachments and facilities geographically distributed across the United States and has personnel supporting U.S. Navy operations around the world.

Apart from supporting acoustic signatures, Luehr is also a member of the command’s Recruitment Advisory Board. He is an advocate for inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, paving the way for various Carderock employees in upper management positions. As a valued technical expert, Luehr pushes his team to create a safe and equitable work environment, and he points at the Signatures Department’s make up as an example for embracing diversity and inclusion in leadership roles.

“I enjoy mentoring other Carderock employees, removing any boundaries and barriers that impede their career advancement, and watching them succeed as they expand their knowledge, skills and abilities,” he said. “I consider it an honor to work at Carderock and to support our warfighters, ensuring that they can successfully complete their mission and return safely home to their friends and family.”