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NSWC Panama City's Th-E Neutralizers go for the gold, win Director's Cup 2020

By Katherine Mapp | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | Oct. 14, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. —

The Expeditionary and Maritime Systems E-Department team “Th-E Neutralizers” from Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) were named the 2020 Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Centers Director’s Cup champions during a streaming event October 14.

 “I am immensely proud of all of the hard work that each of the teams put into their robots,” said Dr. Peter Adair, NSWC PCD technical director. “Ultimately, NSWC PCD’s Th-E Neutralizers took home the gold with a small 38-point margin of victory over the second place team.”

This year’s Director’s Cup competition challenged technical department teams from NSWC PCD, NSWC Crane, and NSWC Carderock to create and field a fully autonomous, artificially intelligent, ground-based vehicle to neutralize a dangerous battlespace. This cross-Warfare Center collaboration is the first of its kind for Director’s Cup and was expanded to other Divisions as way to further One Team Warfare Center efforts.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions of events and gatherings, this year’s Director’s Cup testing events were held separately and prerecorded to form streamed competition event.

Director’s Cup teams consist of new professionals with less than 5 years of experience in the workforce. The first Director’s Cup was held in 2015 and stemmed from a desire to facilitate working relationships.

Dr. Patrick Walters, NSWC PCD Director’s Cup lead, said he has appreciated the opportunity to lead this year’s competition for NSWC PCD.

“Director’s Cup is a truly unique experience. There are few opportunities that allow entry-level engineers to learn and apply state-of-the-art techniques in a friendly competition,” said Walters. “It has been fascinating to see how each team has tackled the challenges of the competition.”

Walters added that it is important to be ready and expect the unexpected.

“With COVID-19, the 2020 Director’s Cup has thrown quite a few unexpected challenges to both the teams and those that make this competition possible,” said Walters. “Each team has done an excellent job of recognizing that traditional methods would not work in this environment, quickly adapted, and overcame.”