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X-Department dominates competition, wins 2019 Director’s Cup

By Ashley Conner | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | May 29, 2019

PANAMA CITY, Fla —

The Science and Technology Department was named the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) 2019 Director’s Cup champions May 22.

“All of the teams put in a tremendous amount of work to create designs,” said Ed Stewart (SES), NSWC PCD technical director. “In the end it was the X-Department who accumulated enough points to take home the trophy.”

The biennial competition challenges each NSWC PCD technical department team to create and field a fully autonomous, artificially intelligent, ground-based vehicle to neutralize a dangerous battlespace.

The first Director’s Cup was held in 2015 and stemmed from a desire to facilitate working relationships among new professionals.

“Many years ago when I began working at the Naval Sea Combat Systems Engineering Station in Norfolk, Virginia, several of us got together and started up inter-departmental softball and basketball leagues,” said Stewart. “Friendly rivalries led to professional friendships during the off hours which led to professional collaborations during the working day. I created Director’s Cup to accomplish that same objective—to facilitate connecting our new professions across the Command; and to build relationships that will last a lifetime and lead to collaborations in real work scenarios for real, paying customers.”

This year’s event scenario was a Marine Corps inspired counter sniper mission, where the vehicles explored a cluttered scene, identified enemy snipers from various non-targets in the area, and neutralized via an onboard shooting mechanism. The ammunition for each team’s neutralizer were standard Nerf balls. All vehicle tasks were autonomous with no human intervention, and the competition decided which team could field the unmanned system that is most effective at clearing the battlefield area.

“Director’s Cup is much more than the day of the competition,” said Stewart. “For more than a year, each of the teams have been getting hands-on engineering design and development experience and, at the same time, gaining valuable project management and systems engineering experience using processes and tools that we have been promulgating through the PCD competency construct.”