This fall the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) and Rowan University entered into the third year of a Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC) research grant.
NEEC is a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Center-wide program designed to conduct leading edge university research to address specific Navy technology needs while providing students hands-on research experience under the mentorship of the faculty principal investigator and Warfare Center subject matter experts. The NEEC program directly contributes to the NAVSEA foundational line of effort to create a sustainable talent pipeline for the Navy.
“NEEC is designed to give students hands-on experience in naval engineering research, which can lead to a career with the Warfare Centers,” said Dr. E. Michael Golda, NSWCPD Chief Technologist.
Rowan University’s NEEC research is focused on developing polymer nanocomposites with enhanced dielectric strength and reduced thermal contraction that can act as the insulation for superconductor cables that will enhance future Navy shipboard power systems.
Rowan University manages the NEEC research as a clinic project, the university’s capstone course for undergraduate students. A team of 16 graduate and undergraduate students from Rowan’s Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department form a multi-disciplinary team that creates and performs the test and evaluation of the Nano-enhanced polymer insulating materials.
“The project provides the students a unique view of the role of the Warfare Centers in supporting Navy technology, a view that is enhanced through the engagement of NSWCPD’s subject matter experts,” Golda said.
“I’ve mentored some students to get further education within the Navy and point them towards a career with the Navy, either with NSWCPD or another Warfare Center that aligns with their personal areas of interest,” said Dr. Jacob Kephart, NSWCPD’s Applied Superconductivity team leader and a Rowan alumnus. “I’m a product of Rowan and a product of the Navy developmental programs so it is really nice to be involved in helping the next generation.”
“NEEC definitely interested me in a career with the Navy,” said Joseph Nalbach, who graduated from Rowan in 2018 with a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Nalbach is one of 13 NEEC students from four universities who accepted jobs with NSWCPD after graduating.
“It gave me hope that there would be a professional work environment that lined up with what I wanted to do,” Nalbach continued. “NEEC focuses on projects and customers. It forces you to ask yourself how would you actually manufacture this, how would you design this so that it could exist outside of the lab.”
Nalbach was recruited to work at the Command’s High Temperature Superconducting lab, continuing the kind of research he completed with NEEC. “NEEC really confirmed that I liked research and I started becoming passionate about making it usable,” he added.
Nalbach, Kephart, and Golda recently conducted a tour for Rowan faculty and students through several laboratories and test sites to show them the Philadelphia Division at work. Nalbach highlighted that these tours are an important part of the NEEC relationship between a Warfare Center and a university.
“I saw what it was like to work for the Navy, the type of work that is done, and the labs where it is achieved. It’s dramatically different than the technology that I saw in school; it wasn’t a sterile lab environment but a real space where real work gets done,” Nalbach said, recalling his NEEC experience.
“The program has really enabled the development of local talent for the Command and the Navy,” said Dr. Kephart. “We are very fortunate to have the NEEC program so we can recruit employees that already have experience in naval engineering.”
The Command has an Education Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Rowan University. The EPA enables NSWCPD to loan unique and specialized hardware to Rowan to further Navy related research, gives engineers the chance to teach courses at Rowan, and encourages collaboration between the organizations.
NSWCPD employs approximately 2,700 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.