NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER, PHILADLEPHIA DIVISION, Penn. —
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) opened its doors to local middle and high school students participating in Temple University’s annual Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) summer camp on July 29.
Students had the opportunity to visit several NSWCPD test sites and labs, as well as engage in panel discussions featuring the Command’s Director for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Sean Brennan, Senior Scientific Technology Manager.
“Quite frankly it is fun; I enjoy the eagerness and the enthusiasm the students bring to our work. I can also see the importance of encouraging their enthusiasm,” Brennan said. “Events like these are important both for our community and our neighbors to understand what we do and the value of our civilian, military, and contractor support. It’s also a chance to showcase our workforce and interest STEM students in a career with the Navy.”
Since 2011, the Command has collaborated with Temple University to mentor students from the greater Philadelphia area during a two-week STEM-focused summer camp. The tours of NSWCPD are a highlight of the Greater Philadelphia STEM Center (GPSC) Science Summer Camp for middle schoolers and the STEM University Preparation (UP) for high schoolers summer camps. The Navy sponsors both of these programs through NSWCPD’s partnership with Temple University.
The partnership’s goals include increasing student interest in STEM careers, particularly in engineering, power and energy, and national security and defense.
The tours at NSWCPD provide students a glimpse into what it is like to be an engineer for the U.S. Navy, which is in line with GPSC’s Navy STEM-focused curriculum. The tours and panel discussions serve as an opportunity for students to spend time with Navy civilian engineers.
“During the tours the students see professionals doing the same types of things they are doing in the classroom; it really helps open their eyes to opportunities available to them,” said Temple University Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Science Education Susan Varnum, Ph.D.
Before the students began the tours, NSWCPD’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Dana F. Simon, put the importance of the Navy’s civilian engineers into perspective.
“I bet that your children will be sailing on the ship, the Gerald R. Ford. Think about that!” Simon said to the students. “That aircraft carrier is going to be out there for 50 years. So, if you all are working on some technology that goes on an aircraft carrier your kids are going to be using that technology. What a legacy!”
Students were able to tour NSWCPD’s Advanced Data Acquisition Prototyping Technology and Virtual Environments (ADAPT.VE) Lab, the Chilled Water Automation System (CWAS) test site, the DDG-51 destroyer Land Based Engineering Site (LBES), and the High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) Lab, as well as attend interactive demonstrations of the STORMS robot and Man Overboard Indicator system.
The tour is only part of how NSWCPD supports the summer camps. During the summer camps, NSWCPD engineers mentor the students and assist them with their projects. This year the middle schoolers are creating a scale model of the retired USS New Jersey (BB-62) that is now the Battleship New Jersey museum in Camden, N.J. NSWCPD employees will help judge the students’ projects, as well as highlight internship opportunities available.
NSWCPD renewed its focus on engaging local schools since developing a new STEM Outreach Charter in 2017.
“Over the years I’ve had a number of interns return as employees,” Brennan said. “It shows the value of these summer camps because the students return as interns and then as some of our finer employees, because they had that early interest and grew with us.”
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.