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High School Students Complete Summer Internships at NSWCPD

By Margaret Kenyon and Keegan Rammel, NSWCPD Public Affairs | NSWCPD | Aug. 7, 2019

Seventeen high school students wrapped up their eight-week summer internships at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) by presenting their summer research projects to the Command’s engineers on Aug. 7.

Every year, NSWCPD partners with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) to provide high school students an opportunity to participate in research while being mentored by professional scientists and engineers. 

The presentations displayed the efforts and accomplishments of the interns, as well as the role of their mentors in providing the students with challenging research that supports larger efforts for NSWCPD customers, according to Stephanie Davidson, NSWCPD’s Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) Program Manager and summer intern coordinator.

“Many students begin college with no idea of what career they may want to pursue,” Davidson said. “By completing an internship at the high school level, they begin to become acquainted with some of the career opportunities that are available. Most importantly, perhaps a future civilian career at NSWCPD.”

The goal of the program at NSWCPD and the partnership with ONR’s SEAP program is to encourage high school students to pursue a degree in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field and a career as a Department of the Navy civilian employee. This goal aligns with Naval Sea Systems Command Campaign Plan to Expand the Advantage 2.0’s foundational line of effort to create sustainable talent pipelines. 

This year’s SEAP interns worked in a variety of codes and systems from cybersecurity to ship controls and navigation to NSWCPD’s cutting-edge Advanced Damage Control System (ADCS).

After the briefs, Davidson conducted an awards ceremony where Shawn McKelvey, Ron Michael Torculas, and Deesha Patel received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place respectively. 

McKelvey, who just graduated from Williamstown High School in New Jersey, presented on “Cybersecurity, Hashing, and the Quantum Consciousness.” This year being his second year as a SEAP intern with NSWCPD, McKelvey leveraged his experience to complete his current project.

“I learned a lot this year; I learned a lot from my mentor and I learned to ask questions,” McKelvey said. “Coming back another year definitely helped just knowing the process and what to expect.”

Throughout their summer internship, the students also participated in tours of test sites and labs, as well as the Battleship New Jersey, networked with members of NSWCPD Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), attended careers in NAVSEA lectures, and participated in the LEGO competition.

SEAP interns are invited to come back to NSWCPD through college internship programs such as ONR’s Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) and the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) programs.

For students new to the program, McKelvey recommends they make the most out of their mentors and ask as many questions as they can.

“Ask questions, if you don’t know something,” McKelvey said. “Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions; it shows initiative and that you are willing to learn.”

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.