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NEWS | June 12, 2024

NSWC IHD Team Wins Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientist and Engineer Award

By NSWC IHD Public Affairs Office

Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) scientists Dr. Demitrios Stamatis and Emma Skekel were honored at the 2024 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientist and Engineer Awards ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, June 12.

“Their contributions exemplify the innovation and expertise coming from Indian Head Division, which is now being recognized by some of the top decision makers in the Department of Defense,” NSWC IHD Technical Director Ashley Johnson said.

Stamatis and Skekel’s Novel Metal Fuel Synthesis and Combustion Team designed and built a constant volume combustion (CVC) vessel that allows critical performance metric measurements of metal fuel and streamlines the fuel development process. The team exploited unique material effects and phenomena by coupling their backgrounds in experimental design and material development.

“Since only gram amounts of material are needed by the CVC, this allows for cheaper and faster development, saving the U.S. Navy significant time and money,” the group’s nomination form stated. “The CVC will rapidly advance the emerging propulsion needs of our warfighters.”

The Novel Metal Fuel and Synthesis Combustion Team was one of five Naval Sea Systems Command groups chosen to receive a Dr. Delores M. Etter team award. The awards were established in 2006 to recognize significant contributions in science and engineering by Navy and Marine Corps civilian and military personnel for superior achievements, and to promote continued excellence in both fields. Etter, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, delivered a pre-recorded address and called the recipients “unsung heroes of national security.”  

Nearly 35,000 Navy scientists and engineers are eligible each year to receive the award. Selected honorees demonstrated exceptional scientific and engineering achievement in their field during the preceding calendar year.

“The selectees in this competitive and prestigious award program demonstrate the outstanding talent, professionalism, and scientific and engineering achievements across the Warfare Centers in support of the Navy and the nation,” NSWC and Naval Undersea Warfare Centers Executive Director Dr. Marty Irvine wrote in an email announcing the winners.

Both Stamatis and Skekel are scientists with NSWC IHD’s Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Department. Stamatis is a recognized expert in preparation, processing and combustion of metal fuels and is the command’s designated materials effects scientist. Skekel is a junior research scientist who joined NSWC IHD in 2018 and has made significant contributions to combustion science. As a team, the two collaborate to clarify the physics and chemistry controlling energy release.

“Breakthroughs in research and engineering often come from taking paths that seem too hard or that lead to dead ends,” said Etter. “Innovation and creativity are often built from ideas that came from previous failures. Because of your persistence and hard work, our warfighters have a technical edge in their battles.”

The award comes in the midst of modernization efforts at the Navy’s only arsenal to keep up with global wartime requirements. Stamatis and Skekel join other NSWC IHD command personnel honored both internally and externally for their contributions in supporting the warfighter.

NSWC IHD — a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.