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Panama City engineer receives Top Navy Scientists and Engineers Award

By Cierra Camper | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | June 16, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. —

A Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) electrical engineer was among seven individuals and five teams to receive a top Navy award.

Dr. Isaac Sledge, NSWC PCD’s emergent engineer was selected to receive the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year 2019 Award.

Sledge said he was surprised, shocked and humbled when he learned of receiving this award.

“I found out about this award when I was reading through the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) executive director all hands email. I was surprised to see my name listed when I scrolled through it. I was then shocked and humbled once I realized why it was listed.”

In the email sent out to all NAVSEA employees executive director James Smerchansky, congratulated the winners and stated the NAVSEA enterprise was well represented.

“These are highly competitive awards and require the winners to have made extraordinary accomplishments in their fields,” said Smerchansky.

Robert Walker, NSWC PCD technical director, acknowledges Dr. Sledge’s hard work in receiving this top Navy award.

"Dr. Isaac Sledge’s determination and commitment to the command through his findings in machine learning and signal processing deserves to be recognized,” said Walker. “Congratulations Dr. Sledge on receiving such a prestigious award and representing the NSWC PCD team well.”

Sledge will receive the award for his technological breakthroughs in the areas of Machine Learning and Signal Processing. Sledge’s research in Reinforcement Learning led to the discovery of a method for optimal decision making in the presence of uncertainty, significantly reducing an autonomous vehicle’s learning time and maximized overall utility.

Sledge also developed novel deep learning approaches to significantly out-perform current side-scan sonar automatic target recognition algorithms that are currently used in the fleet. The combination of these will significantly reduce the time required for effective mine countermeasure clearance operations.

Sledge has also published several top-tier journal and conference papers and recognizes colleagues that have helped him with his achievements.

“This award is an acknowledgement that the machine learning and pattern recognition efforts at our Warfare Center are being recognized and appreciated,” said Sledge

Sledge, native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. received a bachelor of science in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Florida in 2006, a master of science in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2016, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2018.