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Virtual Propel course uses Microsoft Teams to unite, train new NAVSEA supervisors

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs | Dec. 14, 2020

NEWPORT, R.I. —

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s newest supervisors participated in a virtual version of NAVSEA’s Propel course hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock in November. Propel, a five-day course for new first-line supervisors at all NSWC and NUWC divisions and NAVSEA headquarters, provides a basic awareness of warfare center expectations and allows each participant to reflect on their own leadership style while learning best practices from more seasoned supervisors. The curriculum is balanced between team management skills and warfare center-specific training topics and concludes with team Capstone presentations.

Usually held in person at a rotating host warfare center, this latest Propel course was conducted via Microsoft Teams because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Capt. Todd Hutchison, NSWC Carderock’s commanding officer and host of the course, emphasized the importance of continuing the course despite the challenges of the virtual setting. “As an organization, one of the most important investments we make is in professional development of the workforce, and for these new supervisors, that investment is even more critical,” Hutchison said.

Propel’s virtual class content aids new supervisors in understanding the workplace environment and identifying and using organizational resources to take appropriate and timely supervisory actions. Led by a diverse cadre of instructors, students are able to interface with leaders and learn from their experience.

John Averill, head of Division Newport’s Corporate Business Office, served as lead instructor for the week. To Averill, it was apparent that the valuable relationships that are often formed during in-person instruction were still cultivated through the virtual learning setting.

“We still see connections being made among these new supervisors as they participate in their teams, utilize chat and speak up during class. Adjustments have been made to some of the team exercises we do face to face; however, the impact of what is being taught seems to be preserved.”

At the conclusion of the week, the promoted federal employees were placed into teams to present a real-world Capstone scenario to the class. Each presentation allowed each new supervisor to express how they would handle the scenario using the tools and information they had learned over the course of the week.  

Elizabeth Peimer, NUWC Division Newport library director and branch head of the Corporate Research & Information Center, attended the weeklong course and enjoyed working with her Capstone team.

“I was fortunate to have a terrific Capstone project team. We applied the information discussed throughout the week to role play a scenario, and we learned and laughed a lot. It was a great way to conclude the course,” Peimer said.

NUWC Division Newport will host the Propel course in April.

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

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