NEWPORT, R.I. –
Sierra Palmer, an undersea warfare analyst in the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Engineering and Analysis Department, has won the Society of Women Engineers 2021 Helen Martha Sternberg Award.
The award is given annually to a female mathematician, computer scientist or computer engineer who has been working at NUWC Division Newport between six months and two years. Candidates for this award must show significant progress in her major area of study and plan on attaining a graduate degree.
Palmer, a resident of Tiverton, Rhode Island recently earned a graduate certificate in robotics engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and plans to pursue a master’s degree in defense and strategic studies at the Naval War College. Palmer was hired at Division Newport in July 2019, after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in robotics engineering.
Her initial assignment was investigating a concept of employment for underwater vehicles that could be used as a data mule. With support and direction from a senior warfare analyst, she began to explore this uncharted area of undersea warfare. Her research into expanding unmanned undersea vehicle missions led to the development of a concept of employment for unmanned systems for subsea and seabed warfare.
In her brief tenure at Division Newport, Palmer has significantly contributed to two major underway events. The first was when she supported the Saturn Underway project, an unprecedented innovative approach that matched technological capability to tactical impact. A cross-functional Division Newport team researched technology areas, interviewed subject matter experts, and leveraged commercial and classified research for each technology and capability pairing. Her participation helped the principal investigator achieve the Navy-warfighter goal of providing the resource sponsor, program office and senior leadership with greater insight into the core tasks required for undersea warfare system of systems and the associated program scope necessary for such systems to be successful.
Following the success of Saturn Underway, Palmer demonstrated tremendous initiative and confidence in leading Titan Underway, a follow-on war-gaming event to explore critical aspects of seabed warfare.
The award recognizes that Palmer’s efforts deliver results that are extraordinary for a new professional and more commensurate with an experienced journeyman.
Palmer has “cultivated an aptitude for innovative decision-making and problem-solving that instills confidence in her customers and allows her to execute near- and far-term strategic planning in a dynamic multivariate paradigm,” the award states. “She is dynamic multi-tasker who sees challenges as opportunity.”
Amanda Rock of Division Newport’s Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, representing the New England Shoreline Section of the Society of Women Engineers, presented the award to Palmer in a ceremony that was part of the command’s Annual Awards ceremony held July 15.
NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.
NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.