Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD)’s workforce welcomed keynote speaker, Dr. Brent K. Park, during the Command’s annual Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month event on May 23.
Park, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) deputy administrator for nuclear nonproliferation, discussed the importance of diversity, as well as his career path and the importance of mentors.
NSWCPD’s Derek Diep, a member of the Command’s Naval Asian Society Employee Resource Group (NASERG), opened the event by discussing the importance of AAPI Heritage Month. He also recognized NSWCPD’s AAPI leaders.
“AAPI Heritage Month allows us to honor the progress that AAPI individuals have made to the nation, as well as identify the challenges the community faces,” Diep said.
Park began by explaining how diversity of thought allows teams to handle complex problems with a variety of solutions.
He compared the diversity of technology and equipment to a team. He explained that if a piece of equipment went offline then both the hardware engineers and software engineers could work together to fix the issue. He explained that if his team didn’t have the variety of engineering backgrounds, if they hadn’t walked in those boots, they couldn’t fix the issue.
“You all have different backgrounds. You have walked in the boots, that is what the nation needs,” Park said. “The United States speaks every language in the world and we are better for it.”
Park also chronicled his career from a young physicist in different nuclear laboratories to going through a Senate confirmation hearing to appoint him as the chief of nuclear nonproliferation within the Department of Energy.
He explained that early on in his career he noticed that there were few Asian American supervisors so he started applying for those positions. He found mentors to help him achieve career goals and convinced his boss to send him to management training.
Today, Park pays it forward by helping several mentees and hopes to help them think freely and make a change in the world.
“I didn’t just move up by myself, I had lots of mentors,” Park said.
NSWCPD employs approximately 2,600 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel doing research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service and logistics engineering for Navy ships. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.