DAHLGREN, Va. – A team of five Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) scientists and engineers won the 2020 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards, NSWCDD officials announced, June 10.
The NSWCDD winners of this year’s team award – Dr. Terry Foreman, Neil Jablonski, Madeline Jackson, Kathleen Llacuna, and Nicholas Reynolds – successfully accomplished work on the Hypervelocity Gun Weapon System Sensor Integrated Product Project.
“This project is high-risk, fast-paced, and high-reward,” said Llacuna, team lead for the Strategic Capabilities Office Hypervelocity Gun Weapon System (HGWS) Sensor Integrated Product Team (IPT). “As a team, we were able to execute a contract in a couple of months, work with a vendor, and deliver a radar in 24 months.”
The award – sponsored by the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RD&A) – is named for the Honorable Delores M. Etter, who served as U.S. deputy under secretary of Defense for Science and Technology from 1998 to 2001 and ASN RD&A from 2005 to 2007.
“This award is presented to Top Scientists and Engineers who have clearly demonstrated superior accomplishments during the year,” wrote NSWCDD Technical Director John Fiore in an all hands email announcing this year’s winners. “All of you should take great pride in the receipt of this prestigious award. Thank you for your service to our country and to our warfighters.”
In the last two years, the team developed two new radar capabilities: ground based radar precision tracking to close the system’s fire control loop and an added precision fire capability to the U.S. Marine Corps Ground/Task Oriented Radar that also contributed to the Marine Corps ground-based air defense with a mid-range interceptor.
“The team has been exposed to the full life cycle of radar development and acquisition in a short period of time,” said Reynolds, the team’s test and evaluation lead. “This provided exposure to tasks that would normally take decades to achieve on a single project. As the sensor test lead, I would like to thank all of the excellent engineers and scientists on the team that have so enthusiastically supported me and the program over the last several years.”
Foreman, the team’s technical lead, started working with the Navy 45 years ago.
“At the time, I didn’t realize that my dad was in the Navy during World War II. I think that had some impact on me,” said Foreman. “Once I got out here, it was really cool to be able to work for the Navy and get stuff built for the fleet.”
The HGWS IPT was built in combination with another project using the same radar technology.
“Dr. Foreman, our technical lead and expert, has been a huge help,” Llacuna said. “His ability to mentor the team, both individually and as a group, and his support as a team member has led to a lot of our success.”
“I want to thank Kate and Terry for bringing me onto this project, and Dr. Timothy Pratt from Virginia Tech – he made me the radar engineer that I am,” said Jablonski, the team’s lead system engineer.
Most team members have been working on the project since the beginning. For them, winning the team award speaks of their effectiveness as a group. “I feel very blessed to be a part of such an awesome team,” said Jackson, team deputy. “What we have done in a few short years is amazing and to be recognized as part of that team, I am truly grateful.”
Llacuna added, “I’m excited to receive this award as a team, as opposed to an individual. It’s that team mentality that got us through the development, work, and delivery.”
Each group member credited their teammates to the project’s success, many hoping that their accomplishments would encourage others.
“The award shows that we have a process and a way to execute the technical rigor and tailor that in a less than traditional development cycle,” said Llacuna. “The formula has worked, and I would like to see that transition to other projects and teams.”
In the future, some of the Sensor Integrated Product team is transitioning to an effort with the Marine Corps, where the radar’s development is moving on to support another capability gap, while still promoting naval and Marine efforts at Dahlgren.