DAHLGREN, Va. –
In the fall of 2010, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Technical Lead and Peer Mentor Shanice Proctor stepped foot in her first college chemistry course at Old Dominion University (ODU) with a dream of building skyscrapers. While her goals changed over the years, Proctor’s desire to build something permanent grew stronger. The process tested Proctor’s determination.
“Knowing what I know now, it’s all about perseverance,” said Proctor. “You have to put in the work.”
After graduating from ODU, Proctor accepted a job as a civil engineer designing roadways. “Not quite skyscrapers,” she laughed. After a year there, a friend suggested she look into government work. Proctor interviewed and landed a job with the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) team at NSWCDD.
The CEC IV&V group in the Interoperability and Track Management Evaluation Branch reviews and tests the CEC system’s functionality with various combat systems against specific requirements to ensure precise capability packages are delivered and meet naval mission requirements.
“The transition was not as difficult as it may sound,” she said. “In my previous job, I was reading specification and design documents to design a road. Now, I make sure that systems meet functionality requirements by testing them. It sounds like a big leap, but I’m just reading a different set of books.”
Since joining the NSWCDD workforce, Proctor completed rotations across the center, sharpening her skills and broadening her understanding of both engineering and workforce skills.
“The most important lesson I have learned as an engineer is the unofficial motto of the V&V team: ‘trust, but verify.’ I think it is important when someone tells you how a system is supposed to work to take that understanding with a grain of salt and do your research,” she said.
In addition to her work at NSWCDD, Proctor also serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve’s Amphibious Construction Battalion TWO Detachment 206.
“My short experience as a naval officer has made me a better group and technical lead,” she said. “I am learning and improving a lot of the softer skills required to be a good leader, such as decision making, risk management and performance evaluation. The Reserve has allowed me to harness these skills earlier in my career by giving me command and responsibility of Sailors and other resources.”
Proctor is one of six NSWCDD employees recognized as 2021 Technology Rising Star for the Women of Color STEM Conference. According to the award citation, Proctor “plans and executes all test events for CEC baselines built for Aegis combat systems by directing the personnel involved in the testing, collecting the data and ensuring that the analysis is completed.”
“It is a huge honor,” she said. “It has always been a focal point, especially going through college in my general engineering classes. In a class of 30, only five or 10 are women, so you are already in the minority there. Then as a woman of color, you are then in an additional minority. It’s always been something visible, but it has also changed. I can honestly say that from starting my journey as an engineer in college to now, the profession has exploded in its diversity, from the number of women and minorities that I interact with every day.”
Officials of the 2021 Women of Color STEM Digital conference will recognize Proctor and her NSWCDD colleagues Oct. 8 in a virtual technology recognition event.