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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2020

NSWC Panama City engineer chosen to be a panel member at Naval Postgraduate School workshop

By Cierra Burch NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Jason Boxerman, a systems engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division who is currently detailed as the mine warfare science and technology lead for the Program Executive Office-Unmanned & Small Combatants, was selected as a panel member in the Warfare Innovation Continuum’s (WIC) four-day workshop at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).

The workshop titled “Resurrecting War Plan Blue, Leveraging Robotics and Autonomy in Future Conflicts” kicked off a two-to-three year process with the WIC which provides ideas for staff and students to engage with the military and focus on what ideas to prototype. Prototypes are built and tested by students, with the most promising ones being provided additional funding.

“The WIC workshop enables junior engineers and early-career naval officers a unique opportunity to learn and collaborate on solving real-world challenges,” said Boxerman.

Introductory briefs, like the one Boxerman gave, provide context for the workshop participants with a crash course in topics such as unmanned systems applications, industrial espionage, design thinking and military force structure. Knowledgeable individuals in their field are chosen to be panelists and mentors, with occasional observers from Office of the Secretary of Defense, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and by Flag-Level officers.

Boxerman has participated in two previous workshops as a participant and received his master’s degree from NPS.

“I was really honored to be invited as a panel member because the speakers are typically of a very high caliber,” said Boxerman. “This year we had folks who had advised previous Presidents, decorated officers, authors, and CEO’s, all very successful individuals, come speak during these introductory briefs. To say I felt a bit underqualified would be an understatement.”

During the workshop, Boxerman spoke about Unmanned Systems (UxS), which are a critical part of the Navy’s future force structure. He focused on how artificial intelligence and machine learning might be applied, along with identifying the challenges associated with fielding such systems. Boxerman discussed topics such as test and evaluation, manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), and communications. He posed questions such as: how much testing is necessary to certify an autonomous weapons system? What do you still require an operator to do? How is the information presented to the operator? The importance of developing concepts of operation was also discussed to ensure there are plans and processes in place for how much the system can do without human input.

Additionally, Boxerman emphasized planning tools such as programming the “commander’s intent” when UxS encounter unexpected situations. He concluded his teachings on the topic of secure command, control, and communication (C3) for these systems and how UxS might complete the mission if encountering environments that deny C3.

 “To leap ahead and expand our advantage beyond our adversaries’ with novel designs and approaches to using UxS, it is going to take real ingenuity and teamwork, the kind that happens at workshops like this,” said Boxerman.

 “NPS is a real gem of an institution, and we as a Warfare Center, and the Navy as a whole, should leverage the incredible brain trust located there as opportunities arise,” said Boxerman.