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NEWS | Dec. 11, 2023

Carderock Hosts First STEM Recruitment Event for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

By Tamari Perrineau Palmer, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs

WEST BETHESDA, Md. - Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) recently hosted a tour for students from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college within RIT, to explore potential job and internship opportunities at the command. The group visited several engineering facilities, listened to overviews of each of the technical departments at Carderock and networked. The tour showed the students that the Division is not only a research base, but also a workplace that accommodates Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) employees with interpreting services.

Anthony Madalena, an engineer in Carderock’s Future Ship Concepts Branch and an RIT/NTID alumnus, explained that Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) received a grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to support internships for Deaf and HoH students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at no cost. NRL has since expanded these opportunities to other activities across the Navy’s Warfare Centers.

Last year, NRL hosted the first annual Deaf in Department of Defense Research Symposium.

"The intent was to both present the research that the students have done and to show the career opportunities available in the Navy to entice more Deaf/HoH students to pursue STEM majors at NTID/RIT and Gallaudet, ultimately driving interest in working for the DoD,” Madalena said, adding that Gallaudet University, located in Washington, D.C., is focused on the education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Madalena shared the work he performs at Carderock at the event last year, which generated interest in having NTID/RIT students visit the command this year. NRL and Carderock collaboratively hosted the 2023 Deaf in DoD Research Symposium Nov. 8-9 in the Washington metropolitan area. This comprised of the tour of NSWCCD in West Bethesda, Maryland, as well as a technical conference at NRL. All sessions were provided in both American Sign Language and English to ensure full access.

"The goal of this event was to expose the next generation of engineers and scientists to the work carried out in the DoD, and to provide them with networking opportunities and connections as they search for co-op and/or full-time employment,” Madalena said.  

Madalena, Ashlee Floyd, Haley Kirby and Rebekah Knodel took the lead in organizing the tour of Carderock, facilitating networking sessions with leaders from various technical codes, and conducting interview sessions.

“It's great to have students come to see what Carderock does instead of hearing about it so they can get a better experience and idea of what we do here,” Human Resource Recruitment Specialist Haley Kirby said.

“It's my first time coming into a federal government environment and seeing how everything works – all the processes, all the programs that are available here,” Matthew Myers said, a sophomore student at RIT/NTID. “It was more than I expected. And I like the Model Shop; it's something that I am considering doing. At first, I thought I needed to find something that would match my major, but now that I've heard these stories from Carderock employees that are in a career field that is different from what they majored in, I'm thinking it might not be necessary.”

In addition to this visit, Carderock hiring managers will have the opportunity to interview potential candidates from RIT/NTID on Dec. 8. During this hiring event, Deaf/HoH applicants can be considered for employment through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) or Schedule A direct hiring authority, which gives the federal government permission to hire people with significant disabilities without requiring them to compete against non-disabled jobseekers for those positions. These programs provide avenues for qualified candidates to be hired based on their skills and abilities, ensuring equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

In total, there are eight Deaf/HoH employees at Carderock, seven of whom are located at headquarters in West Bethesda, Maryland, and one who works at the command’s Combatant Craft Division in Little Creek, Virginia.

Currently, there are three full-time sign language interpreters on staff at West Bethesda.

Rebekah Knodel, one of the interpreters from the event and the Lead Sign Language Interpreter, said she hopes the event will be a yearly occurrence.