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NEWS | June 11, 2024

Scientists, engineers from NAVSEA Warfare Centers Recognized as Among Navy’s Top

By NAVSEA Warfare Centers Headquarters Corporate Communications

Three individuals and seven teams with members from the NAVSEA Warfare Centers are among those being recognized as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) for Research, Development and Acquisition (RDA) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year for 2024.

“The selectees in this competitive and prestigious award program demonstrate the outstanding talent, professionalism, and scientific and engineering achievements across the Warfare Centers in support of the Navy and the nation,” Warfare Centers Executive Director Dr. Martin Irvine Jr. and Commander Rear Adm. Thomas Dickinson said in an all-hands announcing the Warfare Center winners. “Bravo Zulu to all the selectees!”

The winners will be honored during a ceremony on Wednesday, June 12, at 10 a.m. Eastern at the Pentagon, including:


Emergent Scientist:

Dr. Madeleine E. Harvey, an oceanographer at Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport Division, led a dynamic team comprised of government, academic and industry partners that researched, designed, built and tested a novel distributed temperature sensor for oceanographic sensing onboard naval platforms to enable on-station, real-time determinations of acoustic sensor performance and inform critical tactical decision-making. As the Chief Scientist for this effort, Harvey designed a technology that had never been implemented onboard a naval platform, performed ship integration of the system and its testing at sea, then assessed its performance and performed corrections and repairs in real time. After achieving a successful testing of the prototype onboard a Navy platform in March 2023, Harvey continued her extraordinary efforts, pushing her team to interpret the collected data to better train the crew about the use of a new sensor.

Emergent Engineer:

Christopher J. DiBiasio, Ocean and Mechanical Team lead at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, is being recognized for his critical thinking and innovation in the design, fabrication, deployment and recovery of critical open-ocean, underwater infrastructure at the command’s South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility. His sound decision-making and mechanical design skills were key to the success of multiple projects, most significantly a three-month metocean and underwater electromagnetic data collection event spanning 4 square nautical miles in the challenging Gulf Stream environment. His innovative and time-critical designs of a novel connector and pressure housing resulted in $400,000 of cost avoidance and enabled the measurement event to be executed on schedule. His efforts are ensuring the fleet’s underwater electromagnetic advantage and furthering the U.S. Navy’s knowledge of ocean physics.

Daniel A. Gentile, a computer engineer at NUWC Keyport Division, designed, prototyped and submitted a patent application for the Tiny Digital Acoustic Logger, a miniaturized data acquisition system for high-fidelity data sampling. Gentile delivered the first Office of Naval Research Defense University Research Instrumentation Program project, with NUWC Keyport Division-developed technology and the first unmanned undersea vehicle payload, within eight months. Integrated in a small unmanned undersea vehicle with vector sensor, Tiny Digital Acoustic Logger was utilized for counter unmanned undersea vehicle tracking. Future opportunities include a second Defense University Research Instrumentation Program project, possible mammal data logging, and a key role in a port security proposal.


Industrial Base Additive Manufacturing Team, including: Jennifer G. Gaies, Jesse S. Geisbert, Whitney B. Jones, Erica S. Scates, Matthew F. Sinfield and Aaron Wiest, NSWC Carderock Division.

The Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) Additive Manufacturing (AM) Team is being recognized for its contribution in enabling the growth of AM as an alternative manufacturing method to build and sustain the Navy’s fleet of ships and submarines. The team worked to launch the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM COE) as a focal point for activating vendors in the AM industrial base. It also embarked on significant material maturity efforts aimed at establishing a critical understanding of metal AM materials to enable wide-scale adoption and procurement of metal AM components. The team is currently testing materials to inform the development of material specifications and certification specific to metal AM, aiming for interchangeability with traditional product forms in the long-term.

AN/SPY-6(V)1 Radar and Aegis Baseline 10 Test Team, including: Cory J. Willoughby, NSWC Dahlgren Division.

The team executed comprehensive AN/SPY-6 testing with Aegis Baseline 10 and subsequent data analysis, conducted an extensive review of testing results and recommended fixes, leading to a successful live fire test event and proving the effectiveness of the world-class radar system. The team demonstrated the highest degree of technical expertise and overcame significant challenges to execute the testing, analysis and recommendations, culminating in the first live fire Air Defense Test on USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125). The team expertly addressed test asset availability issues, weather delays, equipment failures and funding challenges to collect the desired data and analyze results. Their efforts led to a major milestone in the AN/SPY-6 development process, representing a major leap in offensive and defensive capabilities for the U.S. Navy and establishing a new benchmark for modern radar systems.

ASF Joint Laser Deconfliction Safety Software Team: Dr. Udayan V. Bhapkar, Lindsey E. Klunder, James L. Latourell, Ryan C. Lesher and William J. Smith, NSWC Dahlgren Division.

The Aurora Software Factory (ASF) Joint Laser Deconfliction Safety Software (DSS) Team fundamentally transformed laser safety systems by innovating beyond the centralized, rigid approaches of the past. The team developed a groundbreaking, decentralized software-only solution using real-time satellite data for dynamic safe-to-fire zone calculations. The team’s work culminated in the 2023 release of a Decentralized DSS to U.S. Army and U.S. Navy laser systems, enhancing operational readiness and test flexibility. The team’s dedication to rigorous validation, complex software development and seamless integration aligns with Department of Defense standards, marking a significant leap in military capabilities and setting a new standard in technological advancement for the Navy and the Department of Defense.

Novel Metal Fuel Synthesis and Combustion Team: Dr. Demitrios Stamatis and Emma K. Skekel, NSWC Indian Head Division.

The team developed and utilized a Constant Volume Combustion (CVC) vessel to parametrize combustion of novel metal fuels and additives and project propulsion performance at weapon scale. The team simplified complex chemical events by identifying the critical performance metrics of metal fuel combustion at gram scale and streamlined the fuel development process through the design, construction and utilization of a CVC vessel. Since only gram amounts of material are needed for the CVC vessel, this allows for cheaper and faster development, saving the U.S. Navy significant time and money. CVC is also impactful in that it provides scientific insight into the complex underlying processes affecting the fuel combustion, enhancing the intelligent selection of various target metal combinations and enabling rapid response to the emerging propulsion needs of the warfighter.

Navy Deployed Additive Manufacturing Team, including: Scott A. Storms, Shaun M. Verrinder, Jake W. Robbins, NSWC Philadelphia Division; Bryan G. Kessel, NSWC Carderock Division; and Lewis B. Shattuck, NUWC Newport Division.

The team, guided by James S. Pluta, lead system engineer for NAVSEA, developed, tested, evaluated and fielded additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities to afloat units and shore-based maintenance establishments, ensuring research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) AM systems are meeting fleet logistics requirements at the point of need. By executing a comprehensive systems engineering approach, which included integrated logistics and a secure digital manufacturing environment, the Deployed Additive Manufacturing Team delivered revolutionary maintenance capability at the tip of the spear. The team is leading the way to advance the U.S. Navy's understanding of additive manufacturing and integrate it forward into the battle space.

Teams Collaborating Across Naval R&D Establishment:

Columbia-Class Shaft Life Risk Assessment Team, including: Aby Thomas, NSWC Carderock Division; Kevin C. King and Richard A. Teichman, NSWC Philadelphia Division.

The team quantified the risk associated with the ability of the Columbia-class shaft to meet a 12-year life cycle requirement, and developed, tested and implemented several design solutions to mitigate and retire a critical program risk. Confidence in the 12-year shaft life is critical to the ability of the program – the U.S. Navy’s No. 1 acquisition priority – to meet operational and materiel availability key performance parameters. The assessments of the team quantified the risk of shaft crack initiation and propagation, recommended the number of spare shafts required to support the class life cycle, and provided the Columbia Class Program Office the confidence to retire the risk of shaft failure over the required service life, ensuring the Columbia-class SSBN will be able to meet the nation’s strategic deterrence needs. The team also implemented improvements to shaftline design that can be adopted by other submarine classes in the fleet.

Target Damage Cards Team, including Ben G. Adam, Luke C. Brownlow, Grant K. Giftos and Greta R. Ouimette, NSWC Carderock Division.

The team, which also includes Francisco J. Rivera from Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, Naval Air Station Fallon, developed a new software tool called Target Damage Cards, which is having a major operational impact across five of the U.S. Navy's Carrier Air Wings. The analytical tool – designed, built and deployed in only two years – provides combatant commanders with improved capability to execute naval strike missions in a contested maritime environment. Target Damage Cards allow for the targeteers to select target and weapon pairing with variable weapon aim point to assess probability of damage for critical mission systems of the target, and provide for a dynamic/3-D visual inspection of the target damage. The new tool is a significant improvement over the legacy look-up table data previously used. Requests for the tool erupted as targeteers praised its operational value to their peers in different Air Wings. The team will continue to enhance the tool based on feedback from Air Wing targeteers.

The awards ceremony will be livestreamed on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS):