NORCO, Calif. —
Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona launched a new learning framework for its government employees Nov. 15, with the goal of fostering training across the command and empowering today’s workforce to lead the Navy into the future.
Capt. Richard Braunbeck, NSWC Corona commanding officer, and Dianne Costlow (SES), technical director, cut the ceremonial ribbon and opened the virtual doors of the long-awaited Corona University before an enthusiastic audience in its main auditorium.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be launching Corona University,” Costlow said to a standing-room only audience. “Corona University provides you the opportunity to understand the knowledge and skills required outside of your division or department. We need to develop you, our workforce, to effectively execute the jobs you do today and prepare you for the technical and leadership opportunities for tomorrow.”
Corona’s leadership has focused on institutionalizing knowledge transfer – from seasoned experts to up-and-coming employees – and the university’s launch furthers Corona’s empowered workforce strategic initiative.
One year in the planning, Corona University was established by the Planning Board for Training with a representative from each department. The committee was led by champions Liza Rosa, human resources director, and Richard Schumacher, Measurement Science and Engineering department head.
The university provides a mechanism to help ensure the next generation of the warfare center’s workforce is well equipped, offering everything from core competencies, leadership, "soft skills" to technical courses to help employees develop a solid foundation and understanding of the depth and breadth of Corona’s mission.
With 25 percent of its workforce eligible to retire now, and 15 percent more within the next 5 years, Corona is at a critical juncture as many employees decide to retire, Costlow said. Many of these future retirees are subject matter experts, and the curriculum taps their knowledge as well as others’ expertise to develop and facilitate the technical, business and leadership courses. The team tasked with creating the university and its structure – the Planning Board for Training – tailored courses to Corona’s specific needs, dividing the curriculum into six pillars which align Corona’s technical and business capabilities:
• Acquisition and Readiness Assessment
• Measurement Science and Engineering
• Performance Assessment
• Range Systems Engineering
• Management and Supervision
All pillars were on display at the launch event, where employees surrounded each of them to talk with department leads and get more information.
Jonathan Osborne, an engineer in the material readiness platform assessment branch, was seeking to expand his skills and become more integrated with other departments. “I was looking at AR because that’s the department I’m working in,” Osborne said, “but I also stopped by the management university booth because they’re offering courses that will help prepare people for management positions. I’d like to be a manager someday, but I don’t have the skill set yet to handle finances and stuff like that, so I’m hoping to take courses to broaden my knowledge. I’m just excited to be here.”
Arman Marquez, a systems engineer in Measurement Science and Engineering (MS), was curious about Corona University’s offerings. “I’m interested in courses that involve weapons systems analysis,” he said. “But there are a lot of other courses, I wasn’t even thinking about, that are also getting my attention. A lot of opportunities that I didn’t even know about, so it’s good I came.”
Christine Dang, systems analyst in the AR department, was also interested in courses with her department and with others. “The [Corona University] presentation was pretty well organized and I learned a lot. It made me interested in taking the classes so I can learn more about where I work.”
Any Corona employee can sign up and all are encouraged to also pursue cross-department training. New employees can begin with common core and general technical competency courses, such as Effective Communication, Intro to Combat Systems and Navy Overview. Within the curriculum pillars, entry-level and intermediate courses are available. For example, within the Performance Assessment pillar, entry-level classes include Sensor Systems Performance Assessment and Telemetry Systems, an overview of telemetry concepts and their applicability to Navy systems. Intermediate courses include Technical Writing and Guided Missile Fundamentals. Courses are available now, additional and more advanced courses are in development and will launch in 2019 and beyond. Most technical classes are taught by NSWC Corona subject matter experts but some will be provided by external experts.
Ron Cichy, a scientist in MS, is one subject matter expert who will be teaching a course on temperature in the near future. “I think today the important part is to educate people on the various classes that will be offered within each department,” he said. “It’s also about the sharing of knowledge,” adding that Corona is very open to people moving around, broadening their experience and expertise aligned to different departments or Naval activities.