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Home : Media : News
NEWS | Aug. 16, 2023

NSWC PCD design thinking aims to deliver tangible solutions

By Shauna Love-vonKnoblauch, NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Personnel from Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) align themselves with one of Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) goals-Right Culture/Values-by strengthening NAVSEA Warfare Centers One Team collaborative culture workshop at the annual 2023 Warrior East Conference, June 21-22. 

Five of the NavalX Tech Bridges and the Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) Tech Solutions hosted the warfighter-centered, decision-making workshop. The event’s goals were to:  teach innovative problem-solving techniques to the warfighter; and source warfighter problems and submit them for consideration in the ONRG Tech Solutions program. The Tech Solutions program is a rapid-response science and technology program focused on rapidly bringing warfighter ideas to the field. Selected projects will deliver a demonstration or prototype solution within 12-18 months which result in making the warfighter’s job safer, more effective, and more efficient. Holly Gardner, NSWC PCD director of strategic engagement and director, NavalX Gulf Coast Tech Bridge, served as part of the planning team.  

“This event directly supports our mission as we dominate the littorals. Our involvement demonstrates our commitment to the warfighter, through designing novel solutions to warfighting needs and delivering operationally relevant solutions to deter and defeat the nation’s adversaries,” Gardner said. “The workshop also helped us increase our understanding of the nation’s threats and our mission areas. Both events improve our technical acumen, through teaching our workforce cutting-edge tools to increase efficiency and effectiveness.” 

The workshop team, supported by the NSWC PCD Center for Innovation, included the Mid-Atlantic, Capital, Liberty, and Gulf Coast Tech Bridge(s). The NavalX Gulf Coast Tech Bridge is led by NSWC PCD, with Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and Naval Research Laboratory Ocean Sciences Division as collaborative partners.  

In addition to rapidly delivering solutions, this workshop supports NAVSEA’s goal of delivering technical innovation and excellence by expanding and enhancing relationships with partners. Since 2018, NavalX has facilitated communication among industry, academia, and the Department of Navy as a means of expediting the transition of necessary and relevant technology to our sailors and marines. Simultaneously, the Tech Bridge Network was established as the mechanism to achieve throughput of necessary and relevant technology.  

Part of NavalX’s role in the greater Navy innovation ecosystem is to connect the Navy workforce and provide access to critical resources.  This includes knowledge, innovation, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication best practices. Andrew Bouchard, NSCW PCD Center for Innovation manager/autonomy research engineer, supported the event as a facilitator. 

 “In coordination with the Naval Tech Bridges, we used design thinking exercises to guide small teams of warfighters to identify high-priority problems based on their expertise and to generate potential solutions,” Bouchard said. “From the longer-term perspective, the event gave the facilitators a better window into the warfighter’s perspective and increased warfighter agency to know where to direct problems and solutions in the future.” 

Follow on events will occur at NSWC PCD at the end of the month, which will focus on teaching processes to rapidly deliver solutions in a variety of business and technical applications. The NSWC PCD Center for Innovation will be working with representatives of NavalX and NSWC Carderock to offer design sprint training to the command. The PCD event will be a 4-day training in design sprint methodologies. 

“Based on the philosophy of design thinking and using proven techniques from industry and government, this workshop will teach attendees both the overall structure of our local four-day sprint process for rapid idea development,” Gardner explained, “and also focuses on a variety of exercises for brainstorming, prioritization, and decision-making that can be used independently.” 

The end goal of the design thinking sprints is to make innovation processes as a whole more available across the command, enabling participants to apply what they’ve learned to rapidly deliver technical and business solutions to meet warfighter needs.