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NEWS | July 26, 2017

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Profile: Kurt Mikoleit, Technical Warrant Holder for Electromagnetic Environmental Effects and Spectrum Supportability – Ships and Submarines (SEA 05W), NSWC Dahlgren

By NSWC Dahlgren Corporate Communications Division

Technical Warrant Holders (TWHs) are Navy engineers and recognized technical experts in their fields across specific technical domains. TWHs are the independent technical conscience for the Navy to make sure systems being designed, produced and delivered to the fleet are as technically sound and as safe as possible.



What is your educational background?

Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, Pennsylvania State University; some graduate courses; many short technology courses; and 33 years on-the-job training.

What was your career path prior to becoming TWH?

I was hired by the Naval Surface Weapons Center, Dahlgren, Va., right out of college and began working in the Electromagnetic Effects Division. Over the course of the next 25 years, I worked in a number of programs, including Tomahawk and DDG1000 (Zumwalt-class destroyer). During that time, I undertook various technical tasks which exposed me to many of the core disciplines that comprise Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3): Electromagnetic Vulnerability, Electromagnetic Interference, Radiation Hazards, Electrostatic Discharge, High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse, etc. Additionally, the programs provided me with experience in specification development, testing and evaluation, shipboard integration, risk assessment and mitigation, and program planning and execution. All of these experiences formed the basis for my qualifications for the TWH position.


How did you become interested in your particular field of expertise?

I picked electrical engineering as a degree because I was good at math and it was one of the highest paying jobs for new graduates. Electromagnetics with practical applications to antennas and radars were courses of high interest during college. As luck would have it, I was hired into an organization where I could apply and build on that knowledge.


What does a TWH do?

Applies his or her broad knowledge to unique problems in an attempt to arrive at a product that meets performance requirements and/or has acceptable risk which is achievable within the programmatic constraints of cost and schedule. When this cannot be achieved, then an accurate assessment of the operational risk is a critical step in risk acceptance by programmatic and fleet representatives.


What traits should a TWH have?

Good communication skills – output: written and verbal; and perhaps more importantly, input: listening. As the name implies, a TWH’s position should be based on facts and not hypothesis or supposition. Be consistent in your position across all programs. The ability to stand your ground and maintain the technically correct position in the face of extreme pressure. The ability to admit you're wrong when you're wrong.


Why is the role of TWH important to the fleet?

Being missions funded and by definition independent from the program offices, I have the ability to alert fleet representatives of equipment that is not compliant with requirements and has an associated operational performance risk. Often the fleet is not willing to accept the same risk that the program offices are willing to accept.