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NEWS | Jan. 24, 2024

NSWC Philadelphia Division Engineer Participates in Pentagon Rotation Program

By Gary Ell

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) Program Manager Jamie Gates, the inaugural Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (DASN) for Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Connective Tissue (CONNECT) program cadet, is currently participating in a four-month developmental rotation opportunity at the Pentagon.

“This unique professional growth opportunity for Jamie provides her an exposure to Navy Secretariat/Pentagon work, and an increased awareness and understanding of policies and processes, as well as greater insight on how NSWCPD and the work we do fits into the Department of Navy’s big picture,” NSWCPD Technical Director Nigel C. Thijs, SES, said.

“This rotational pilot program will benefit NSWCPD upon Jamie’s return, through her sharing of her experiences working within the DASN (RDT&E) office. We have discussed plans to share additional insight into DASN (RDT&E) efforts with command leadership and her experiences building collaboration with DASN (RDT&E) strategic efforts and efforts across the Naval Research and Development Establishment (NR&DE),” Thijs added.

Gates serves as the Land Based Engineering Site (LBES) Enterprise program manager for NSWCPD’s Surface Ship Test & Program Division, and is responsible for the program management and execution of four major test sites at NSWCPD: DDG 51 LBES, DDG(X) Land Based Test Site (LBTS), FFG 62 LBES, and Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) LBES.

Before her current position, Gates served in various leadership and test site roles at NSWCPD, as the first line supervisor for DDG 51 LBES, DDG 51 Flt III LBES program manager, first line supervisor for the Life Support and Ventilation branch, and as a site production lead for the Compatibility Test Facility (CTF). Her time in these positions has allowed for additional opportunities to collaborate and foster innovation across the entire organization.

Gates began federal service in 2012 as a chemical engineer with NSWCPD supporting in-service engineering, design, and alterations for Submarine Life Support systems. She holds a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor’s of Chemistry from Seton Hall University. Additionally, Gates has numerous certificates including a Public Administration Certificate from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a Leadership Certificate from Pennsylvania State University.

During the four-month rotation that started in October 2023, participants were assigned to a single Directorate (Naval Research and Development Establishment-NR&DE), Test and Evaluation (T&E), Chief Engineer (CHENG) for the duration of the tour, but will have opportunities to shadow the other directorates at the Pentagon.

Since her rotation began, Gates has been working with the NR&DE team, which provides oversight of technical missions of the Naval Warfare Centers and Labs and the oversight of the Navy’s University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs). The NR&DE unifies Naval R&D organizations to provide greater technological advantage to U.S. warfighting.

One of the impactful initiatives she has been working on is planning for NR&DE Summits, which involve executive face-to-face NR&DE engagement focused on increasing collaboration and networking across the leadership team, leadership development, aligning strategy across the enterprise, and coordination on emerging technical topics and challenges.

She has been finalizing the Fiscal Year 2023 Naval Innovative Science & Engineering (NISE) Program Annual Report for submission to R&E in support of the DoD Annual Report and working on Section 233 Initiatives, which is a congressionally directed pilot program to demonstrate methods for more effective development of technology and management functions at Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories (STRLs).

Gates stated that her goals are to develop new insights and strategically think while understanding the vision of the Navy at its highest levels. She wants to create a vast portfolio of naval experiences and opportunities while creating a network and collaboration space to achieve necessary tasking for future projects.

“I want to look for future opportunities where I can make a difference and bring these opportunities back to NSWCPD,” Gates said, adding, “My current position allows influencing many individuals and technical areas that could benefit from the knowledge, collaboration, and network I gain from this experience. I want to continue to learn more and engage the workforce to provide the best solutions to our current Sailors and future Navy.”

Gates applied to the program to understand the vision at DASN (RDT&E) to better align NSWCPD to policies and processes of DASN (RDT&E). She felt this opportunity would allow NSWCPD to expand its network across various levels of the NR&DE. As a command that heavily supports the in-service fleet, there is a strong need to support and prioritize RDT&E efforts to ensure the Navy is staying ahead of its adversaries. This opportunity will help her in understanding priorities of DASN (RDT&E) and better help NSWCPD align competencies and ensure NSWCPD remains a top laboratory for the U.S. Navy.

The RDT&E CONNECT Program also benefits DASN (RDT&E) by adding new perspectives, while strengthening connection to both Warfare Centers and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The opportunity will grow the understanding of DASN (RDT&E) efforts across DON and build connective tissue across multiple levels of the enterprise.

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,800 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel. The NSWCPD team does the research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for the non-nuclear machinery, ship machinery systems, and related equipment and material for Navy surface ships and submarines. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.