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NSWC Crane Employee wins Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | July 25, 2018

CRANE, Ind. – Dr. Alison Smith, Chief Engineer of Materials Analysis for Microelectronic Component Technologies at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane), was awarded the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (also known as “the Sammies”) People’s Choice Award on July 19.


The Sammies, known as the “Oscars” of government service, are a highly respected honor with a vigorous selection process. Since the Sammies were first awarded in 2002, there have been a total of 457 finalists – only 12 of whom came from the Department of the Navy. Dr. Smith becomes the first-ever winner of the Sammies People’s Choice Award from the entire Department of Defense (DoD).

“I’m so excited and beside myself with appreciation from all of the support,” said Smith. “None of this would have been possible without my NSWC Crane work family, my larger NAVSEA family, all of my alumni associations, and of course my family and friends.”

Smith’s work is about designing nanomaterials that have properties for a specific application. Materials exhibit different properties on the nanoscale than they do in bulk. Scientists, like Smith, can exploit those properties by projecting them into device scale constituents without influencing the host material. The new properties can open doors to entirely new applications.


“The focus of my work isn’t on any single application – I really want to get that across,” Smith said. “These types of particles could have applications across all three mission areas – Electronic Warfare, Strategic Missions, and Expeditionary Warfare - at NSWC Crane.”


Smith, along with Indiana University, used nanotechnology – the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale – to create the equivalent of fingerprints, or unique identifying markers, that can be imbedded into military equipment and parts.


“The threat to national security of counterfeit products is all too real,” said Dr. Jonathan Dilger, NSWC Crane’s Director of Research. “Alison is specifically focused on researching the potential benefits of using nanotechnology to identify legitimate components and prevent counterfeit, faulty parts from entering the supply chain.”


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 Electronic 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.