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NEWS | July 26, 2022

Navy’s chief engineer shares perspectives on digital engineering, modeling and simulation with NUWC Division Newport workforce

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Paul Mann, chief engineer in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E), shared his perspectives on digital engineering, modeling and simulation after attending a Live, Virtual, Constructive (LVC) Summit held at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport June 28-30.

“I’m comfortable with the idea that everything we’ve done so far is necessary, but it’s not sufficient. This doesn’t mean we don’t take pride in what we’re doing, but the nation is counting on us,” Mann told employees on June 29. “Everything has to change. If you’re comfortable in wrapping yourself in the warm blanket of change, you’re going to have a great time.”

Engineers and scientists from Naval Sea Systems Command’s warfare centers gathered at the summit to develop a plan for building and expanding the Navy’s digital battlespace. Marie Bussiere, digital transformation executive for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development, Test and Evaluation, spearheaded the event that brought in attendees from across the naval research and development establishment.

Workshops focused on the Aggregated Digital Ecosystem for Naval Advantage (ADENA), a digital battlespace where users can create customized “experimentation sandboxes” for exploring a particular technology, or for mission planning, experimentation, testing, concept of operations, war gaming and training. Priorities include unmanned systems, Project Overmatch, and long-range fires.

ADENA provides a common portal that appears as a single holistic battlespace to discover necessary resources to compose a particular mission vignette for a particular application. According to Bussiere, the Navy’s Unmanned Campaign Framework outlines an ambitious agenda to rapidly integrate unmanned systems across the fleet and a digital battlespace is instrumental in exploring the many facets of manned unmanned integration and teaming.

After attending the summit, Mann presented a talk divided into five chapters that in totality represented his views on digital transformation. He opened by discussing how the threat presented by China has forced the U.S. to change how it operates.

“The threat is changing and many of us know how significant the threat is. What I need you to understand is everything is changing on the planet that is putting pressure on the U.S. Navy that has less ships and people available,” Mann said. “This is a very different world than five to 10 years ago. The enemy is proliferating and there is evidence it is challenging us.

“… The processes and procedures we used to do are exemplary because look at these great weapons we have. We like what we did, but now it has to be done faster and cost less.”

To do this, Mann said, the Navy needs to leverage the benefits of computers in new and innovative ways.

“What we’ve done in the past is unaffordable and unsupportable. If it’s not producing, it’s not going to achieve the outcomes we want. Profound change is needed,” Mann said. “We have to change engineering rigor so that it’s delivered with different procedures and digital engineering processes. You are part of that team that is going to drive that change.”

In his third chapter, Mann discussed the foundations of LVC, modeling and simulation. To gain an advantage, he explained, the U.S. Navy needs to deploy assets in different ways.

“We have to replicate these systems in a digital environment and we have to get good at it,” Mann explained. “The goal is to get a lot closer to what could potentially work with the people we have. We need to unlock the potential of the workforce.

“We need to be the demand signal. Experiment with real ideas that change the scope. You have to be a part of the solution. You can’t just sit back and complain.”

Along that line of thinking, Mann explained that he understands there are a number of obstacles — whether they are bureaucratic, institutional, technological or otherwise — that stand in the way of progress. Mann emphasized the critical importance of overcoming these boundaries.

“There are a lot of challenges, but we as leaders need to find ways to get over these obstacles,” Division Newport Technical Director Ron Vien said. “For the sake of our nation, we need to overcome them.”

Furthermore, Mann stressed the need to expand the view of when one’s work is truly finished.

“We’re not done until our work is not only in the hands of the warfighter, but we’ve also gotten their feedback on how well it works,” Mann said. “You have to care about the delivery of software to an operational environment.”

NUWC Division 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- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport