WEST BETHESDA, Md. —
Larry Tarasek began working at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in 1985 in what is now the Signatures Department (Code 70). He never imagined at the time that he would be selected as the technical director.
When he first started as an engineer, Tarasek said, the Navy was focusing on a new submarine design, Seawolf. He spent his first nine years doing submarine design and acoustics, traveling a lot to Carderock’s Acoustic Research Detachment in Bayview, Idaho, running experiments. He said the Seawolf program had very stringent acoustic goals, and he and his coworkers put a lot of effort into meeting the requirements set for them.
“I’m an experimentalist at heart,” Tarasek said. “It was a great time to come into Carderock and into the Navy.”
When the Seawolf program didn’t build as many ships as initially expected, Tarasek used the opportunity to do a three-year rotation at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which broadened his technical experience from just signatures to overall submarine design, an experience he said he would recommend to any Carderock employee.
When it was time for him to return to Carderock, he decided to use the knowledge he gained at ONR to expand his base by joining what was then the Ship Design and Integration Department, where he did program management for the Virginia-class submarine and was a customer advocate for Virginia, the Ohio-class submarine and early concepts for Columbia-class.
Tarasek did this for about 15 years before moving into the front office as deputy technical director in 2011. In this position, he added surface ships and unmanned vehicles into his portfolio, as well as exposure to all the work being done in the detachments.
“Every day is different with different challenges,” Tarasek said about working at Carderock.
Tarasek graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, a degree he said was an automatic choice since both of his older brothers had already forged that path, also at the same school.
One of his brothers had been working at Carderock already and as Tarasek neared graduation, his brother helped him get an interview. That brother went on to work for the Department of Defense in other capacities before retiring. His other brother is working in robotics in Rochester, New York, not too far from their hometown of Buffalo.
Now, as technical director, Tarasek said he looks forward to continue meeting with the workforce and sharing what’s important to him and to Carderock. He said he plans to focus on technical execution of current projects, as well as strategic planning for “the Navy after next.”
“I really want to be providing the Navy with the right designs for the ships of the future, and then service the fleet for the ships we have right now,” Tarasek said.
He said there is strategic planning that has to happen that not only looks at five or 10 years down the road, but also looks at what’s being done today.
“We are at the peak of design for Columbia,” Tarasek said. “But we’re going to have a follow-on potentially to Virginia, so I have to think about what’s the Navy after next, what’s that next ship design going to look like.”
To be ready, Tarasek said the core of Carderock’s strategy should be ship design, unmanned systems, acoustic superiority, digital technology and platform integrity.
“The Navy’s changing. Additive manufacturing, digital design – these are things that weren’t relevant five years ago, they weren’t part of the way we do things,” Tarasek said, adding that first-class design capabilities, information technology and cyber are changing the way ships are designed and maintained. “And we have to prepare ourselves, and that’s part of the strategic aspect.”
He said he plans to do that by focusing on the workforce, the tools and facilities.
“Those are the things that are really important to me, that we have that infrastructure, to go and design that next generation of ships, submarines and unmanned vehicles,” Tarasek said. “But it always starts with the workforce.”
Besides being an avid Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan, Tarasek said he likes to play golf and go hiking. He and his wife, Donna, like to travel, as well, usually to destinations fairly close, like the Adirondacks or the Great Smoky Mountains.
“Everyone always says they like to travel,” he said, jokingly. But not everyone takes road trips with their cats. His self-described hobby of two cats, Butchie and Jason, means the cats get to travel with the Taraseks. “They come everywhere with us.”
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