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Home : Media : News
NEWS | May 14, 2024

NSWC Crane employee continues to grow 80-year family legacy through mentorship

By Emily Gray (ctr), NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Clay Armstrong is the Chief Engineer for Counter Sensor Technologies in the Platform Protection Division. Armstrong works on High Energy Laser and Counter ISR Programs for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He began his career at NSWC Crane as an intern in Public Works, now Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC). Armstrong might have worked at NSWC Crane for 34 years, but his family’s legacy dates back even further – to 1941.

Figure 1: Pete Pickett, back row, leftLike most people in the surrounding area, Armstrong has a long history with NSWC Crane. Armstrong’s grandfather, Pete Pickett, owned the land that WestGate@Crane Technology Park is built on. The tech park is located less than five miles from NSWC Crane and is part of NSWC Crane’s innovation ecosystem. Pickett would eventually work for the original construction contractor for the base, Maxim. Once construction was completed, Pickett would be hired on to NSWC Crane, which was known as Naval Ammunition Depot at that time.

Armstrong’s father, Dan Armstrong, also worked for NSWC Crane starting in 1967 and would eventually retire as a Division Manager in Data Processing, now known as Information Technology, in 1994. Early on, his father taught him the importance of making valuable connections when working at NSWC Crane.  

“My father taught me early on that Crane is a big community, and the network of Crane is how things get done,” said Armstrong.

Figure 2: Dan Armstrong receiving an award from the head of his division.Through job opportunities, career growth, research, and interesting work, NSWC Crane is one of southern Indiana’s premier employers. NSWC Crane is able to attract people outside of Indiana for work due to the opportunities provided in research and development. 

“Crane offers a career with a purpose,” said Armstrong. “I get to come to work and develop solutions that could literally save lives. I have been able to serve my country, live close to my family, and work on high tech research. There aren’t many jobs like that in middle America.”

Over the years, Armstrong was fortunate enough to have several mentors and peers to offer support and guidance throughout his career at NSWC Crane. Their ability to lead by example and remind their team that they have a responsibility to the warfighter is something that Armstrong continues to instill in those just starting out in their careers.

“My job now is to mentor as much as I execute. My division has a tremendous pool of young talent and I try to lead by example,” said Armstrong. “I tell all the new hires to make sure you volunteer for something hard - that is how you grow. I was running a program at age 25 because I was given the opportunity. I learned so much by doing the hard stuff.”

Figure 3: Dan Armstrong second from rightOutside of work, Armstrong is a proud father of four children and an avid golfer, something he shares with his father.

“When I started as an intern my father, who was an avid golfer, and I would play golf at the old Crane golf course after work during the summers,” said Armstrong.

Between his grandfather, father, and himself, Armstrong and his family have dedicated a combined 80 years to command. From his grandfather selling land for the development of tech park to today, Armstrong has a unique relationship to NSWC Crane, something that will hopefully continue in future generations.

About NSWC Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electromagnetic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at