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Computer engineer wins NUWC Newport’s Helen Martha Sternberg Award

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs | May 31, 2018

NEWPORT, R.I. — Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport employee Nicole Nunez, a computer engineer in the Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department, was the recipient of the Helen Martha Sternberg Award, presented each year to a female professional in the field of mathematics, computer science or computer engineering.

Candidates for the award must have shown significant promise in their field, be planning to continue study toward a master’s degree and have been employed at NUWC Newport between six months and two years.

A resident of Cranston, R.I., Nunez joined NUWC Newport’s USW Combat Systems Department’s cybersecurity team in 2016 as part of the Information Systems and Facilities Engineering Branch upon graduation from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in computer engineering. In a short time, she made her mark as an extremely productive and effective engineer in the dynamic and high-pressure task area of cybersecurity.

The award citation, in part, reads:

“Nunez has continually increased her skills and expertise and taken on more tasking and responsibility in a domain area critical to the Navy’s future. She has shown the ability to share and relate her newfound knowledge with peers, Division leadership, and members of industry at a professional conference. Even with a busy direct-tasked workload, Nunez took on a New Professional Development Program effort in an area that she is passionate about — training others. Her work with her department’s “Enable the People” strategic focus area and her leadership of the Division’s New Professional Network are a testament to her commitment to others.

“Nunez is planning to continue her studies in the fall, when she starts a cybersecurity master’s degree program at the University of Rhode Island. She understands that it is critical to continue learning and increasing her skills in cybersecurity. Nunez will accomplish this through additional studies and taking on increasingly complex assignments.”

The award was presented by Yadira Gilchrest, a former award recipient who is an engineer in NUWC Newport’s Sensors and Sonars Systems Department. Gilchrest was representing the Society of Women Engineers, New England Shoreline Section (SWE-NESS), which sponsors the award, during a ceremony held in Newport on April 26.

Helen Martha Sternberg worked as a mathematician in the Environmental Acoustic Model Development Group at NUWC’s former New London Laboratory in Connecticut. She became a recognized authority on the Generic Sonar Model, which is a computer model of the sonar equation. Sternberg received a master’s degree in mathematics in 1949.

The Helen Martha Sternberg Award was established in 1990 and is presented each year to a NUWC Newport female employee who has an educational and work background similar to Sternberg’s. Funds for the establishment of the award were provided by Sternberg’s family to SWE-NESS, which invested the funds and uses the accrued interest to purchase a book or appropriate software on mathematics or computer science selected by the recipient as the award.

NUWC Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC’s other division is located in Keyport, Wash.