When Alexander Rivera-Jimenez was a student at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez (UPRM), recruiters from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) participated in a job fair on campus.
The effort was part of an ongoing initiative to attract a diverse pool of talent to NSWCDD.
Rivera-Jimenez received a job offer on the spot in October 2010 and began his career at NSWCDD five months later in the Electronic Warfare Systems Branch.
As the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Rivera-Jimenez reflected on his humble beginnings growing up in Camuy on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico.
“I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I know there are many in my family that are proud of what I’ve done in my young career,” Rivera-Jimenez said. “I hope that someday I can be looked at as a role model by others in my community and the next generation of students in Puerto Rico and here in Virginia.”
Rivera-Jimenez is one of several former UPRM students to land at NSWCDD due to their diverse hiring practices. He said Puerto Rico, as well as other Hispanic nations and territories, have talented citizens – something he believes NSWCDD recognizes as he has witnessed an influx of fellow Hispanics.
“I can certainly say I know a lot of Hispanics at Dahlgren,” Rivera-Jimenez said. “We seek each other out. We have a good spread across multiple departments, which is nice to see.”
One of the projects Rivera-Jimenez has worked on is the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program. As the project’s systems engineer, he designed and supervised the construction of electrical infrastructure in compliance with the National Electrical Code.
He performed detailed electrical power infrastructure assessments of venues and sites of interest, based on power flow calculations and modeling of distribution lines using power systems simulation software.
He also designed and built a DC power distribution system in conformance with military standards, among other duties.
In 2013, Rivera-Jimenez transitioned into the Nulka program, which is a soft-kill defense system. The Australian Aboriginal word Nulka means “be quick.”
“There, I started doing system engineering analysis to improve what we call the eavesdropper device,” Rivera-Jimenez said. “It’s just a data recording device. I assisted in ship testing, and I also helped in the development of the Decoy Launch Processor Program.”
Rivera-Jimenez earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland in College Park in 2016.
In 2020, he received the Department of the Navy Civilian Service Achievement Medal which recognized him for "significant contributions to the U.S. Navy while serving as Lead Systems Engineer for the Decoy Launch System" from 2018-20.
Since last October, Rivera-Jimenez has filled the Nulka Project Manager role, leading a technical team of more than 20 contractors. He has been recognized in his branch for outstanding leadership, integrity and a commitment to developing Nulka.
He has led and provided technical oversight of the MK 53 Decoy Launching System software development, integration and testing efforts for the Decoy Launch Processor Program and the Nulka components of the Softkill Coordination Subsystem.
“He is an outstanding employee,” said his supervisor Jessica Delgado, the Electronic Warfare Systems branch head at NSWCDD. “His leadership is incredible. I’ve been his supervisor for less than a year and I’ve seen how much his team respects him and views him as a leader. His technical expertise in Nulka is immeasurable. He has been the project lead for a little less than a year and with the way he has been able to field questions you would think he’s been in the position for 10 years.”
Rivera-Jimenez said his commitment to Nulka stems from his personal belief in its benefit to the warfighter. He said since he took over leadership of the program, he has encouraged his team to do quality work.
“I try to lead them in a way that they can be proud of,” Rivera-Jimenez said. “Even if I make the wrong decision, it is really about doing the best you can with the information you’ve got. You never find yourself in a position where you have every piece of information available to you. So, I hope that in a few years, people can look back and say, ‘He did a great job.’ But right now, I feel like I am just getting started.”