DAHLGREN, Va. –
During his 35-year career at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), Robert Kirby shared, led, contributed and supported the development of cutting-edge technology and the people behind the work of those programs. In recognition of his professional accomplishments and achievements as well as a reflection of his unwavering dedication to providing the best products for the warfighter, the Department of the Navy (DoN) selected Kirby as a recipient of the prestigious Civilian Service Commendation Medal (CSCM) award.
The DoN CSCM – the fourth highest award in the Navy given to a civilian employee of the DoN and Marine Corps – is presented to an individual who far exceeded performance expectations and achieved significant accomplishments impacting the Navy’s missions.
Kirby always knew he wanted to serve his country and do work that reflected his dedication and skillsets in science and technology. Following in his father’s, uncle’s and grandfather’s footsteps into the military, Kirby joined the U.S. Air Force (USAF) at 18 years old. “For me, it has always been a matter of how I can contribute in national service for the security of our country,” he said.
After serving as an electronic warfare systems specialist during his service within the USAF, Kirby decided to transition into a civilian role and soon began exploring professional opportunities that aligned with his technical expertise and capabilities.
In June 1987, Kirby began his career at NSWCDD as a computer scientist and quickly became an integral part of the workforce. He worked alongside various teams in producing top-quality products for the Navy, from aircraft crew workstation user interface and hardware control software to developing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission capabilities for the warfighter. “Giving the troops the best gear and keeping them alive – that’s what motivates me the most,” Kirby stated in a recent conversation.
Kirby also earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a focus on computer science and operations research from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, as well as a master’s degree in systems engineering from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas while part of the workforce at Dahlgren.
For the past 17 years, he served as lead software scientist and firmware engineer on the Pharos Program within the Distributed Asymmetric Systems Branch. According to his CSCM citation, Kirby “provided significant technical contributions and innovation, especially concerning global data broadcast communications systems and their respective worldwide low observable satellite capabilities.” The citation continues to state that Kirby’s “hard work, dedication and broad understanding of the military application of remote sensors have been crucial to the delivery of numerous operational capabilities to the warfighter.”
Kirby’s high-level technical expertise and exceptional leadership showcased his qualifications as a candidate to receive the CSCM award. For more than three decades at Dahlgren, his technical expertise and forward-thinking mindset significantly impacted the programs he supported. He received numerous commendations, awards and recognition from NSWCDD Command leadership and senior department heads.
Kirby recently retired from civilian service at NSWCDD in late May 2022 and reflected on his professional achievements and rewarding career.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award. I am really proud of the important work we do and the people we support,” said Kirby. “Any success I’ve experienced in my career is really attributed to the teams I’ve worked with and the people pushing for our program’s support. Not only are they putting their own lives on the line, but they are also engaging in the politics behind the scenes to ensure we are successful in what we’re accomplishing.”