Dr. Natasha Chang, a mechanical engineer in the Hydroacoustics and Propulsor Development Branch of Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division, has been honored with the 2020 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) for Outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Talent in the category of Professional Achievement – Level I.
Chang, who works at Carderock’s Puget Sound Detachment in Bangor, Washington, serves as a subject-matter expert in acoustics and fluid mechanics, and develops empirical models and experimental methods to study multiphase flow, hydrodynamic and aeroacoustics sound sources to provide guidance to the U.S. Navy on the impact of those sources on far-field acoustic signature.
Chang has been an employee of NSWC Carderock Division for the last decade, and throughout her tenure, she has worked on the Columbia-class submarine program – the U.S. Navy’s top priority. The Columbia-class submarine is designed to replace the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
Chang’s work is split between hydroacoustics in support of the Columbia-class, data analytics and machine learning.
“Compared to what I used to do before when I worked at Ford Motor Company, one thing I really like about working at Carderock is that I get to perform a lot of technical work,” Chang said. “At Ford Motor Company, I did less technical work and more managerial work. I like the higher level of technical work that Carderock offers.”
Per the nomination package, she works in “transitioning research work in hydroacoustics and flow scaling from universities or other institutions to Columbia design application. She develops empirical flow models and develops tests to confirm her modeling and expand the Navy’s understanding of the underlying physics of the observed phenomena.” Furthermore, Chang “leads a diverse group of engineers and scientists in the development of competencies in advanced data analytics, including machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence.”
The work she and her team perform realizes improved platform stealth and will revolutionize ship and submarine tactics in the future.
Another area that Chang provides valuable contributions is to condition-based maintenance, which includes applications that predict machine failure. For this project, Chang is the science and technology and research and development lead. Per the nomination, “Her work is part of the Navy’s Digital Twin project, where artificial intelligence is used to electronically create a ‘digital twin’ of the machine being studied for failure indicators.”
Chang enjoys the privileges that Carderock offers, particularly the opportunity to work in a highly flexible environment.
“Carderock provides me the freedom to do my work in the way that I want to do it,” Chang said. “I really enjoy that. Carderock allows me to go off and learn new things, which most companies will not let you do.”
Additionally, Chang has been heavily involved in Carderock’s Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC) since its inception, serving as the Carderock technical point of contact to the faculty and students at the University of Michigan – where NEEC was founded.
The NEEC program cultivates a world-class naval engineering workforce through student participation in project-based research conducted at colleges and universities around the nation.
“You want to go into a workplace where you feel welcomed and can make sure you can be successful,” she said. “That’s one thing I always ensure to focus on with the NEEC projects. I want these young people to not only become aware of the possibilities that the Navy offers, but also for them to feel comfortable in the environment the Navy offers.”