NEWPORT, R.I. –
Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport employees and family members stood at attention on April 22 as the American flag swiftly raced up the flagpole on base during morning colors, signifying the official start of Bring a Child to Work Day, an annual event that had experienced a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.
More than 375 participants attended the day designed for children ages 9 to 17. A schedule of 34 workshops offered a greater understanding of why what employees at Division Newport do and know matters. Events were aimed at peaking an interest in STEM careers and encouraging would-be scientists and engineers.
“I’ve been in command at Division Newport for nearly two years but this is my first Bring a Child to Work Day. I thought it was important to start it back up again,” Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings, with his son Joseph by his side, told a crowd of nearly 100 people who gathered at the flagpole. “I really hope you enjoy yourselves, and that you’re inspired by the science and technology that you see today.”
While colors served as the official kickoff of the day’s events, unofficially the festivities had started much earlier. As more and more people gathered by the flagpole and command tent, a group began to concentrate by Gary Huntress, an engineer in Undersea Warfare (USW) Platforms and Payloads Integration Department.
Huntress was demonstrating Division Newport’s Spot, a robot dog, giving kids a quick tutorial before letting them take over the controller. Even after colors had concluded, a small group stuck around to ask Huntress questions and test out Spot.
Among them was Scott Weininger, an engineer in the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, and his grandson, Alexander Beaufort. Weininger explained that over the years each of his children — now grown, ages 21, 30 and 32 — came with him to Bring a Child to Work Day, and now it was Alexander’s turn.
It did not take long to see the resemblance between grandson and grandfather in watching the two interact with Huntress and Spot. The two volleyed questions to Huntress in quick succession as new ideas emerged.
“Could you use this to deliver different things?” Beaufort asked, with Huntress quickly agreeing.
Weininger offered his own idea for how to use Spot, postulating an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could be attached as a payload to allow for reconnaissance missions.
After the back-and-forth had concluded, the two thanked Huntress and moved on to the next event.
“Alexander’s very much like his father, who’s very much like me,” Weininger said, adding it was great to have Bring a Child to Work Day back and share this experience with his grandson.
Fifteen-year-old Addison Dalton attended her first Bring a Child to Work Day at age 9, when her favorite activity was the “So You Want to Be in Pictures?” with the creation of a movie poster with Division Newport’s Visual Information team. She’s still interested in visual arts, so she made sure to stop at the computer-generated imagery (CGI) presentation. In addition to spending the day with her dad, Mark Dalton, chief engineer for cybersecurity in the USW Combat Systems Department, Addison enjoyed “meeting the people that my dad comes home and talks about.”
As for the CGI presentation, Keith McClenning, head of the Visual Information/Digital Imaging Branch, explained how Division Newport’s visual information team uses logos, graphs and animation to create visual representations of complex Navy concepts using some of the same movie software and skills used to create blockbuster movies.
“We can use these tools to visualize future fleet scenarios,” McClenning said.
In another building, displays and demonstrations at the Propulsion Test Facility gave participants some insight into what makes torpedoes go. This included a test of a Mark 46 torpedo propulsion system inside the control room with Doug Arnold of the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department.
Nearby, visitors took a self-guided tour of Torpedo Alley to see some of the different torpedoes used in wartime history that were developed at the Naval Torpedo Station and through the command’s nearly 153 years of service to the U.S. Navy. Mark 48 Mod 4 and Mark 46 Mod 5A(s) torpedoes also were on display with sections of the outer hull removed.
This allowed David Padilla, Eamon McKenney and Dave Schillinger, all of the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, to demonstrate how the individual pieces within the propulsion system interact with one another.
“It’s nice to talk about torpedoes in totality,” McKenney said. “We walk by these every day, but it’s not nearly as often we get to show them off and demonstrate how they work.”
With this year’s event falling on Earth Day, Science and Technology Library staff incorporated earth-friendly activities such as the “Cardboard Box Engineering and Innovation Station” where kids made robots and boats from cardboard. The Recycle, Reuse, Reimage Station let kids tap into their creativity using recyclable material such as bottle caps and plastic. The staff also made ocean and naval-themed books available to browse. Anyone entering or existing the library got to see the Hall of Careers, an inspiring poster display of Division Newport scientists, engineers and business professionals describing their goals in achievements in their own words.
Another hands-on engineering event, “Build it, Break it, Fix it,” was sponsored by the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) group. Participants made structures out of index cards and tape and then measured how many pennies could be placed on the structure before it collapsed.
First-time volunteer Charlie Villafuerte-Luna of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, was excited to assist with building the structures.
“I’m a big proponent of teaching kids with fun tasks and projects,” he said. “As a kid, I remember once doing a marshmallow-toothpick project. Hands-on things are a lot better than reading text books all the time.”
The Narragansett Bay Test Facility and Rapid Engineering and Experimentation Facility (REEF) opened its doors to visitors so they could tour the Transporter research vessel and REEF facility, as well as an opportunity to locate objects using sensor equipment.
“So much interesting work goes on here at the waterfront and it’s a great day for kids to see how NUWC utilizes Narragansett Bay,” said Dr. Steve Bordonaro, director of the Northeast Tech Bridge and manager of the REEF.
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.
Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Career-Opportunities/ and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.