The U.S. Navy utilizes design specifications to manufacture their vessels and fulfill their specific missions. Now and then, updates to these design specifications are needed as new technologies are integrated, new missions are added and novel designs or materials are developed.
One prime example of this update is the ongoing work for modifying the Naval Combatant Design Specifications (NCDS), which governs the principles of naval shipbuilding. Kevin Warwick, a naval engineer in the Ships Structures Branch at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, has been tasked with the crucial role of managing the NCDS program for the Platform Integrity Department, and bridging communication between technical and managerial communities.
In the past, the Navy has used commercial standards for their ship designs, but discovered that there are several parts that make them unfavorable for naval applications.
“The fundamental problem is that there are too many technical gaps in industry standards,” Warwick said. “Think about all the scenarios a U.S. Navy ship has to face that a commercial cruise ship does not. There are things the Navy requires to be more stringent: safety, shock, materials and weapons. Taking what we learned – structural issues, mechanical issues and things that mature over the past 20 years – we are now using that knowledge to update NCDS. Some of those specs that we’re updating now have not been updated since the 1950s and 1980s – but we’re updating them now to meet those 2020 and future standards.”
Warwick graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. As a postgraduate, he worked for a private transportation engineering firm that managed and designed roadway networks, signal timings and crash analysis. He later applied to the Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP), which provides highly qualified and talented entry-level employees opportunities for technical development, career broadening assignments, and graduate education within the Department of Navy (DON). As part of NADP, Kevin Warwick began accruing technical experience and program management knowledge across numerous organizations. He completed rotations at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) headquarters in Washington D.C., Norfolk Naval Shipyard and NSWC Carderock, before joining the command permanently in July 2018.
In the process of updating NCDS, one challenge Warwick and Team Leader for the Warfare Centers Mike Tisler encountered was finding an effective way to incorporate expectations between program management and technical expertise. Warwick applied his experience from NAVSEA headquarters and Carderock to mediate both perspectives and provide clarity for steps moving forward.
“Having someone like me from NAVSEA headquarters out to Carderock – I have a managerial mindset, so I came here to be taught the technical side of things,” Warwick said. “My experience with knowing management first and understanding what management expectations are from headquarters allowed me to get everyone onboard without them crossing over into each other’s expertise, and then blurring everything.”
Technical Director Larry Tarasek applauded Warwick’s NCDS role, labelling it important for the command and emphasizing the work quality that continues to build on Carderock’s illustrious reputation.
“Kevin’s accomplishments with the NCDS project demonstrates the type of committed engineers we have at Carderock,” Tarasek said. “His ability to rise above the challenge and manage two completely different worlds – technical and program management – is remarkable. Through his work, all fields of expertise were able to communicate effectively, meet expectations together and help the Navy save valuable resources. We are all impressed with his work.”
In the last and current fiscal year, Warwick has been collaborating with several departments across Carderock and other divisions within the Platform Integrity Department to address specific standards. For example, he worked with the Survivability and Weapons Effect Division at Carderock to discuss multiple factors and variables that contribute to a ships’ survivability. He also engaged the Environmental and Energy Division for guidance on environmental standards, specifically to follow and be aligned with the Uniformed National Discharge Standards (UNDS). In the following fiscal years, Warwick expects to expand his growing network of expertise into the Materials and Manufacturing Technology Division.
By using the Microsoft tool OneNote, a program that can be found on all NMCI machines, Warwick has been able to accelerate the process of meeting with subject-matter experts (SMEs), getting them situationally aware of future challenges and allowing them extra time to produce a better product.
“The icing on the cake, to me, is getting what we set out to be done on time,” he said. “The cake is getting the funding and using it to produce what we set to accomplish. By noticing any issues early, we are able to get subject-matter experts and Technical Warrant Holders (TWH) on board and available, that is the icing on the cake that makes it a little extra tasty.”
Warwick’s ability to navigate and merge two worlds – technical and managerial – enables him to provide the “icing” on a long-term project that enhances future naval capabilities. He utilizes task management techniques and technical excellence at all levels to successfully manage tasks and execute program objectives in a timely manner. Warwick also uses tools, soft skills and management methods to compile NCDS for the Navy, all of which leads toward capturing decades of experience in ship design. When he began, he had an idea of how to run this program, so he set an execution plan in motion. With the help of his can-do attitude, Warwick has been successfully running the NCDS program ever since.
Platform Integrity Department Head Jeff Mercier praised Warwick’s commitment to the NCDS project and highlighted his exemplary leadership.
“The Naval Combatant Design Specifications, which will impact many future ship designs, touches every division in in our department,” Mercier said. “Kevin’s collaborative and organized approach helps capture the deep knowledge that resides at Carderock and NAVSEA on ship structures, loads, materials, survivability and environmental compliance. He accurately manages budget and schedule, and keeps his sponsor and his management informed of progress. His leadership on this project displays key tenants of Technical Excellence – technical rigor in both the final product and in the in the execution of the work, backed up with continuous communication results in the right people, at the right time, with the right answer, for the right cost.”
Chief Engineer for the Platform Integrity Department Sylvia Rivera recognized Warwick’s contribution to the NCDS project as a good example of technical excellence.
“To me, technical excellence is the combination of strong execution in areas of strategic importance to the command, while also fostering an environment of collaboration and learning,” Rivera said. “Kevin’s project meets all these criteria; NCDS is laying the foundation for ship specification development for future platforms. Executing this effort has required task management across multiple SMEs throughout our department, leveraging resources such as share drives to develop processes to enable collaboration, while staying on schedule and under budget.”