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NSWC Crane Employees Recognized as Finalists of the CNR Concept Challenge

By NSWC Crane Public Affairs | Aug. 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – In an effort to inspire innovative ideas, the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) – Rear Adm. David Hahn – developed a Concept Challenge to capture concepts that “really get out in front of the rapid, ever-accelerating technology development and deployment cycle”.

There were over 200 submissions in the CNR Concept Challenge, from which nine finalists were selected during the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo last month. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) was responsible for 43 of the more than 200 submissions, and two of the nine finalists.

“When the announcement came out from CNR looking for innovative ideas, we wanted to encourage our workforce to share their ideas through the event,” said Janna Foxx, NSWC Crane’s Deputy Technical Director. “Our workforce provides innovative engineering and technical designs to meet the warfighter’s needs. I am very proud of the 43 people who submitted proposals, and I’m honored to have two of the nine finalists from NSWC Crane. We have worked hard to tap into the innovation that exists within NSWC Crane and the region to ensure we never have to face a fair fight.”

The concepts in the CNR Challenge focus on keeping naval ships, aircrafts and personnel always at an advantage, and help Sailors and Marines either deter conflict or win decisively and return safely. All idea submissions were reviewed by a team of subject matter experts within the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

NSWC Crane’s Dr. Ben Conley and Harrison Holmes were recognized as two of the nine finalists of the CNR Concept Challenge. Dr. Conley’s concept focuses on enhancements to existing thermal-imaging capabilities, and Holmes’ concept centers on creating low-cost solutions for additive-manufacturing metals.

Dr. Conley’s proposed project is to develop a new type of uncooled thermal infrared sensor. The idea is built around the positive aspects of the night vision goggle (NVG), such as high frame rate, low lag, and low power, and adds in uncooled thermal imaging.

“This has the potential to give expeditionary warfighters a new capability and advantage on the battlefield that is currently only deployed on a few platforms because of the high power and cost of those existing mid-wave infrared systems.” Dr. Conley said. “It was great to receive the CNR Concept Challenge award and be recognized for my ideas and research here at Crane.”

Holmes’ original concept involved using the additive manufacturing (3D printing) method of material extrusion to print bronze. A key focus of the proposal was to drive down costs of metal additive manufacturing. Since then, the focus has shifted to the ink and its manufacturing process.

“Additive manufacturing is the future and its potential applications add considerable versatility to the warfighters repertoire,” Holmes said. “I'm excited about the potential work that's tied to the project and honored that my project got chosen.” 

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of NAVSEA. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability of today’s warfighter.