WEST BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Students, professors, and Navy engineers and scientists shared the projects they've been collaborating on at the mid-Atlantic meeting of the Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC), hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division on April 11 in West Bethesda, Maryland.
"I think the opportunity for you to work with us and be part of the Warfare Centers construct here in terms of supporting us gives you a really good feel for the things we do for the Navy and the greater nation as a whole," said Larry Tarasek, deputy technical director at NSWC Carderock, when welcoming the nearly 150 attendees.
NEEC is a program under the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Centers. In addition to NSWC Carderock, other mid-Atlantic region Warfare Centers represented at the event were NSWC Dahlgren Division, NSWC Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division and NSWC Philadelphia Division.
"The intent of NEEC is for the Warfare Centers to work with students at research universities so they know about the extent of Navy problems and also about the opportunities to join our technical workforce," said Kirk Jenne, director of the NEEC. "I'm impressed with the breadth of research represented at this event."
The program provides funding for relevant research at selected academic research institutions, in addition to opportunities for students to participate in hands-on research during the academic year to develop their technical skills.
"We know universities are doing cutting-edge research. We want to get the best and brightest minds to help us solve Navy problems, and you're part of that," said Don McCormack, director for NSWC and Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC).
Dr. Stephanie TerMaath, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, whose team is working with NSWC Carderock, presented her team's research at the NEEC meeting. In basic terms, her team wants to better understand how printing parameters, such as nozzle temperature, cooling, sample size and print time, affect the mechanical properties of the material, with the ultimate goal of qualifying components made from these materials for use in shipboard applications. This could have immediate benefit to the Navy as the results get published, by sharing the data with other researchers, as well as establishing a quicker process for Sailors to use qualified and certified material to print parts.
"We are also looking at building our own customized materials for a particular application and we are specifically interested in recycling," TerMaath said. "So, if you're out on a ship and you want to build a part, can you just grind up what you have and reprint it but still maintain your structural properties? And how many times can you recycle it?"
Dr. Alan Brown, a professor from Virginia Tech, has students working with NSWC Philadelphia Division to address issues related to affordability for ship systems as the combat systems and other systems on a ship require more and more power in different ways.
Zeenat Kukoyi, an industrial engineering student at Morgan State University in Baltimore, is working with NSWC Indian Head. Their NEEC project is the "Effects of Copper Thickness on Electrical Conductivity of Carbon Nanotubes and Carbon Black Electrodes."
"Working with NEEC has brought me closer to what I want to do outside of college and making me appreciate lab work 10 times more than what I originally did," Kukoyi said. "A lot of people don't understand the basic strengths of lab work in the process and how experiments, data collection, data analysis helps with a lot of stuff on a day-to-day basis."
Data analytics was a common theme among all of the speakers, specifically how to process the amount of data being collected through research so that it's useful to future generations. Brown, who has been working with NEEC for nine years, said they are looking at data in the design process, adding that they have to find new approaches to cut down the costs, not just in the details for the technologies, but in their integration.
"Data, data, data - I hear data all the time; data from prior designs; data that you generate from your models from future designs," Brown said. "And using all of that data to come up with knowledge to make early-stage decisions is a very important part of what we are trying to do."
A panel of young professionals representing each of the Warfare Centers offered advice to the up-and-coming job hunters, touting continuing education as a benefit.
"There are rotational opportunities within the division," said Chelsea Graham, an electrical engineer at NSWC Indian Head Division. But she said new employees should build the craft they were initially hired for and then seek the other opportunities that help further their career.
Several senior employees imparted their wisdom to the students attending, hoping to encourage them to work for the Navy.
Dr. John Seel from NSWC Dahlgren Division talked about his experience installing lasers on ships, and testing rail guns by blowing stuff up, all things he thought every college-aged student might be interested in. He went on to say that the scope of work done there spans from basic science to applied engineering, computer science to rocket science, and unmanned systems to laser systems.
Steve Greineder, the senior technologist for acoustic signal processing at NUWC Newport Division, reiterated the scope of the work that is being done and therefore, the people who are needed to do that work.
"What do the Warfare Centers want from you? It's very simple. To do what you were put on this earth to do. What is your gift? We need it," Greineder said, describing the breadth of talent required to do the work the Navy needs. "Where do you see yourself? We need people that can sit down and do the theory. We need people that can take the theory and make it work in reality. We need good acquisition people - all to support the fleet."
Continuing on the theme of encouraging students to work for the Navy, specifically a Navy Warfare Center or Naval Research Lab, keynote speaker Rear Adm. David Hahn, chief of naval research, said the technological talent this next generation brings to the table will be important to the Navy's mission.
"Our job is to provide to the warfighter the necessary advantage to stop the adversary from moving ahead," Hahn said, adding his thanks for what they do today, "what you're going to do tomorrow, and tomorrow's tomorrow, to make sure that we, as America's Navy, never let our Sailors enter into a fair fight."
To learn more about NEEC, visit http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/Partnerships/NEEC/.