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NUWC Division Newport engineer wins Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs | Aug. 2, 2019


Dr. Robert Hernandez, an engineer recently retired from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Weapons, Vehicles and Defensive Systems Department, has won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which is among the highest honors bestowed by the United States government on outstanding scientists and engineers.

This is the first time a NUWC Newport employee has won this award, which recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers for their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

Hernandez, a resident of Middletown, Rhode Island, worked as a heavyweight torpedo systems engineer for more than 21 years, significantly contributing to the design and integration of the Navy’s heavyweight torpedoes. In 2014, when pursuing his doctorate degree, Hernandez demonstrated his superb capabilities as a researcher by publishing various peer reviewed articles related to computer, biomedical and systems engineering. In fact, he selected his research carefully to support warfighters and civilians with transfemoral amputations.

In conjunction with the University of Rhode Island (URI), he developed various small and low-power architectural solutions for URI’s Neural Machine Interface (NMI). When this NMI is combined with a bionic leg, it allows the user to perform various locomotion modes such as walking and climbing stairs via their own volitional control. Hernandez conducted this research in parallel with his heavyweight torpedo responsibilities at NUWC Newport.

In addition to his daily tasking, Hernandez found time to volunteer in the community to encourage under-represented and low-income students to pursue higher education. As a recognized mentor and role model, Hernandez has been invited to share his story and experiences at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (New York University Chapter) and the Providence Career and Technical Academy High School Pre-Engineering program.

NUWC Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.