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NSWC Crane Employee Works to Bridge Human-Technology Gap

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | July 18, 2018

CRANE, Ind. - Ten years ago this summer, Erin Calhoun started her career at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). Even before college, she knew she wanted to study electrical engineering.

“I was introduced to electrical engineering in physics during high school,” said Calhoun, an Electrical and Human Factors (HF) Engineer. “I was intrigued by the light and optics portion of the course, so I decided to pursue a degree in that field.” 

Her experience in electrical engineering has now merged with another career. Calhoun first became interested in HF during work rotations and science and technology (S&T) events at NSWC Crane. She met Ajoy Muradlihar, Chief Engineer of the Human Systems Integration Branch at NSWC Dahlgren and Dr. Alan Pinkus, formerly of the 711 Human Performance Wing out of Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Dr. Pinkus, she said, encouraged her to obtain her Masters of Science in HF Engineering.


“I was able to move into HF Engineering by expressing an interest and willingness to learn about a field that was new to me,” said Calhoun “No one said that I couldn’t or shouldn’t, in fact it was quite the opposite.”


Calhoun finds that persistence and independent thinking are crucial to her job. As a HF Engineer, she works to ensure the usability of products, but said it can be challenging since NSWC Crane engineers are always working on incredibly complex designs.


“We need to understand both what is the realm of possible as well as what is the realm of practical from the human perspective,” said Calhoun. Her job is to make sure operators can use the products engineers are making. “This can sometimes put us in opposition with systems engineers, who may focus more on the technological capabilities.”

While working towards the Expeditionary Warfare mission, she hopes to create a better understanding of HF at NSWC Crane, increase capability as a warfare center to include HF research and improve the usability of the products provided to the fleet.

Calhoun's most consistent role is as an engineer in support of the Night Vision and Cueing and Display System (NVCD), a night-vision augmented reality system, as well as working on a number of research efforts. She is also a member of the Disruptive Technologies Working Group, Human Systems Integration Working Group and Naval Augmented Reality Consortium, among other efforts.

Although Calhoun doesn’t have a lot of free time with the many hats she wears, the few moments she does have are spent reading or learning to play the harp.

“I’m not that good yet, but luckily for me the harp sounds beautiful even when you miss a note – or play a few extra,” joked Calhoun.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of NAVSEA with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. NSWC Crane is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s warfighter.