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NEWS | March 14, 2024

NSWC Crane engineer leverages Ph.D. experience to advance U.S microelectronics

By Sarah K. Oh, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Figure 1: Dr. Matthew Gadlage pictured in an NSWC Crane laboratory.A Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) engineer leveraged his experience and education through the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Fellowship Program to advance Department of Defense’s (DOD) microelectronics technology.

Dr. Matthew Gadlage started working at NSWC Crane in 2002 where he worked in a branch focused on radiation-hardened microelectronics. NSWC Crane established its Ph.D. Fellowship Program for employees to research Department of Defense (DOD)-related technology areas while receiving their Ph.D. In 2007, Dr. Gadlage applied and was accepted as one of the first employees in the program—and he later became the first graduate in 2010.

As part of the program, Dr. Gadlage received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He pursued a doctoral program at Vanderbilt because they had the largest research group in his area of interest. Vanderbilt is home to the world’s largest academic group that specializes in radiation effects on integrated circuits.

“The Ph.D. Fellowship Program is a great opportunity,” said Dr. Gadlage. “During my time in the program, I was involved in cutting edge research at a great university.”

Microelectronics serve as a foundational technology not only for everyday items, like phones and computers, but also for defense systems. Dr. Gadlage explains that defense systems have unique needs for microelectronics.

“Microelectronics are in nearly every defense system. Some of the challenges the DOD faces is that microelectronics need to be secure, reliable, and work in harsh environments. For defense systems, such as satellites, that need to work in space, the electronics often have to be radiation-hardened (rad-hard).  Another huge challenge for the department is that many fabrication sources for microelectronics are not in the U.S.”

Figure 2: Dr. Matthew Gadlage, pictured on the left, receiving an award at an IEEE event, which is a worldwide organization for engineering, computing, and technology information. In 2013, Dr. Gadlage helped found the SPECTRA Lab at NSWC Crane. SPECTRA was a research laboratory focused on ensuring the integrity of microelectronics for defense systems. In 2017, Dr. Gadlage started his current role on the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) Trusted and Assured Microelectronics (T&AM) Program, where he is the lead for the rad-hard microelectronics technical area of the program. In this role, he has been the technical point of contact (TPOC) for several significant development activities, such as a technology transfer and a contract to expand domestic state-of-the-art (SOTA) microelectronics.

“Many defense priorities such as space, nuclear modernization, and missile defense require rad-hard microelectronics. Over the years at NSWC Crane, I have had the opportunity to lead many rad-hard microelectronics development efforts.”

He credits the NSWC Crane Ph.D. Fellowship Program with learning how to successfully communicate complex ideas and topics with others.

“I learned how to present to broader audiences—to explain complicated topics to people who are aren’t as familiar. This [experience] helps Crane and the DOD. My Ph.D. experience helped me brief senior leaders on rad-hard microelectronics and why they are important.”

In 2019, Dr. Gadlage became the Radiation Sciences Chief Engineer at NSWC Crane. Over his 22 years at Crane, he has published numerous research papers and patents

Dr. Gadlage said he has enjoyed working at NSWC Crane on the difficult challenges facing national security.

“You get to work on interesting problems and really have an impact,” said Dr. Gadlage.

About NSWC Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electromagnetic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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