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NEWS | Dec. 14, 2018

NSWCDD Engineer Wins 2019 BEYA Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

The chief executive officer of Career Communications Group is looking forward to meeting Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) mathematician and “inspiring role model” Willie Crank in person at an upcoming Washington D.C. awards gala.


Tyrone Tabor wrote a letter to Crank, congratulating him for his selection as a 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Science Spectrum Trailblazer award winner on behalf of Career Communications Group's U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine.


“I look forward to seeing you, your family, and colleagues in February,” said Tabor, adding that he was also writing on behalf of the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the event’s host Lockheed Martin Corporation, and sponsor Aerotek. “May good fortune continue to be yours, and may you always be an inspiring role model for others.”


The awards ceremony will take place at the 2019 BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference. Crank and other outstanding award recipients will be recognized at the Technology Recognition Luncheon featuring Modern-Day Technology Leaders and Science Spectrum Trailblazers on Feb. 8.


Crank responded to the news by crediting those who supported him in his education and career since he started making an impact on the Navy as a government civilian employee six years ago.


“I am deeply honored to have been selected for this award and I want to thank every person throughout my life and career who supported, guided and believed in me,” said Crank, who will be recognized among industry legends and rising stars accepting accolades and making inspirational speeches. “I hope that I continue to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of others and strive to achieve the goals I have set forth.”

Science Spectrum Trailblazers are men and women who are demonstrating outstanding performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 


“We hope that the BEYA Science Spectrum Trailblazer certificate validates what you already know – you are a special and gifted person,” continued Tabor in his Nov. 28 congratulatory letter. “This recognition will also highlight the breadth of opportunities that await thousands of young American women and men.”


NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Godfrey ‘Gus’ Weekes nominated Crank for his technical prowess, responsiveness, and impressive accomplishments during his first six years working at Dahlgren in the technical area of Integrated Air and Missile Defense analysis, as well as his leadership in organizational workforce development.


“In 2017, Mr. Crank led a study to quantify the impact an improved sensor would have in defending against an advanced threat, allowing senior leaders to make well-informed future budgetary decisions,” said Weekes in his nomination letter to Career Communication Group. “His groundbreaking efforts to quantify human decision making effects on engagement timelines as well as the effects of incorporating battle management aids in support of integrated weapons fires has provided the initial insights required for the design of such aids, and will have lasting impacts on future naval capabilities. Upon conclusion of each effort, Mr. Crank personally briefed the results to OPNAV N81 and other two- and three-star flag officer resource sponsors, ensuring stakeholder concurrence with results.


“In 2018, Mr. Crank took on the additional challenge of leading IAMD (Integrated Air and Missile Defense) analysis in support of the Naval Capability Improvement Program - From the Sea. In this fast-paced effort, he has worked closely with Fleet representatives to identify gaps in future warfighting capability, and then worked closely with resource sponsors and various program offices to quantify impacts and develop solutions. He has thus solidified himself as an IAMD expert with an in-depth technical understanding and the ability to quickly determine issues and impacts of new capabilities on the overall mission.”


The nomination letter referenced Crank’s achievements as an Integrated Air and Missile Defense analysis subject matter expert, as a leader in organizational workforce development, as a group leader for the Model Development and Analysis Group, and for his work on NSWCDD's Early Career Technical Advisory Council.


“Mr. Crank has proven to be a leader amongst his peers and is an outstanding mentor to junior employees, often taking time to guide them with advice related to technical projects and general career subjects,” said Weekes. “Mr. Crank's technical prowess, responsiveness, and impressive accomplishments have significantly advanced NSWCDD's reputation as a leader in warfare analysis while providing substantial new analytic capability to the Navy. His tireless efforts and devotion to duty set the standard for others to follow.”


Crank ascribes much of his success to asking one question – Why not?


“Always asking myself the question ‘why not?’ is one of the biggest drivers to what I've achieved in life,” Crank reflected. “That question applies to making the most of an opportunity; trying my best to be the best; and trying something that I have not tried before. It drives me to make the most of the situations I find myself in.  I can say it's been an interesting journey and I've been able to see some very unique things – whether sitting in a classroom, working in a job as janitor, or all throughout my career at Dahlgren.  I can attribute this trait to my mom since she's accomplished many things throughout her life that inspire me to be better.”