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ONR HBCU Program, NSWC Corona Collaborate to Enhance Workforce Diversity

By Kim Longstaff, Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Corporate Communications | NSWC Corona | Jan. 7, 2020

CORONA, Calif —

Representatives from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Historically Black Colleges and University/Minority Institution (HBCU/MI) Program visited Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Dec. 9 to identify new ways to collaborate and increase minority outreach.

Paid student internships, faculty fellowships and research opportunities were hot topics in an open discussion among ONR HBCU/MI Program Director Anthony C. Smith Sr., ONR Support Contractor Dr. Cyntrica Eaton, NSWC Corona Commanding Officer Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey, Technical Director Dianne Costlow, SES, and support staff as they explored ways to enhance outreach and accession programs and increase workforce diversity.

The ONR HBCU/MI program showcases what the Navy has to offer to students, graduates and faculty at historically black colleges and universities. It is designed to increase student and faculty participation in Navy and Marine Corps research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) programs.

“As both technology and the Navy mission advance, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to reach tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leaders today,” said Costlow. “The goal is to find them, introduce ourselves, show them what a career with the Navy can do for their professional careers and education and start forging that mutually-beneficial relationship as early as possible. Reaching out to HBCU/MI schools more effectively and offering a wider suite of attractive programs and pathways for their students is a powerful way to make those important connections with many of the students who will eventually become the driving force of our organization.”

Currently, HBCU/MI has student internships with Naval Air Systems Command, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command and Naval Supply Systems Command, where research topics focus on naval aviation, Navy-relevant STEM disciplines, computer science/engineering and data science and logistics engineering. Smith said he is currently in talks with several warfare centers within the NAVSEA enterprise for student internships. NSWC Corona is the eighth warfare center he and his team visited to discuss collaboration possibilities.

“We would love to see a NAVSEA internship program with HBCU/MI,” said Costlow. “Corona’s diversity is already a key element of our success, and HBCU/MI may have insight on how to further leverage that, as well as how to best recruit outside of traditional channels.”

Talent management continues to play a pivotal role as NSWC Corona grows to support the fleet’s demand for its products and services. Like the Navy at large, NSWC Corona has long sought to expand diversity within its ranks as a way to ensure the science and engineering powerhouse recruits and retains America’s best and brightest.

 According to Taylor Cole, NSWC Corona chief technology officer, internship programs connect students who are passionate about technology with the opportunity to play a role in the Navy mission and begin a rewarding career in government service.

“All of this is interconnected with our talent strategy,” said Cole, “This is a major home run.”

According to its leadership, NSWC Corona is well positioned for greater partnership and collaboration with ONR, particularly in the areas of data analytics and decision science. The command is the only Navy federal lab of its type in Southern California’s Inland Empire and is one of the largest employers of STEM professionals in the region.

For more than 20 years, NSWC Corona has upheld a robust STEM outreach program. It is also a founding exhibitor and education partner with Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP), a signature outreach program for NSWC Corona and the Inland Empire.

Nestled in the geographic center of many distinguished universities, NSWC Corona maintains formal education partnerships with several Hispanic and minority serving institutions, to include California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California State University, Los Angeles and University of California (UC), Riverside, the first UC campus to receive the designation in the state. The partnerships serve as expedient onramps for attracting new STEM professionals into the Navy’s RDT&E enterprise.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona, headquartered in Norco, California, is the Navy's premier independent analysis and assessment agent, using measurement, analysis and assessment to enable our warfighters to train, fight and win. The center analyzes warfare and missile defense systems, provides systems engineering for Live Virtual Constructive training ranges, and advises and administratively manages measurement and calibration standards for the Navy and Marine Corps. Capt. Khary Hembree-Bey commands the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) field activity with a workforce of more than 3,700 scientists, engineers, contractors and support staff.