Diana Rivera-Rodriguez and Kendra Spencer, both from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport Undersea Warfare (USW) Electromagnetic Systems Department, have won Career Communications Group (CCG) Women of Color magazine national technical achievement awards. This annual award program recognizes women who have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in their workplace and in their communities.
Rivera-Rodriguez, a resident of Warwick, Rhode Island, is the winner of the Technology Rising Star Award. As the Tactical System Support Center lead for USW Electromagnetic Systems, a position she has held for approximately two years, Rivera-Rodriguez oversees the development and distribution of submarine electronic warfare (EW) libraries for AN/BLQ-10(V) subsystems throughout the fleet, as well as verification, validation, and accreditation (VV&A) processes to test library identification, supporting both developmental and operational testing of EW subsystems. Prior to that position, she was a test and evaluation engineer and supported the VV&A process for the portable Combat Electromagnetic Environment Simulator, an EW support system aboard Virginia-class submarines.
Rivera-Rodriguez has continued to support critical Navy EW test and evaluation events following her first professional assignments. In recent years, she participated as the principal investigator for the tall periscope project, an interdisciplinary, proof-of-concept development effort. The tall periscope addresses the issue that traditional mast sensors have — low height of eye, limiting their view of the horizon. Since beginning her career at Division Newport in 2012, she has proven herself as a very capable professional engineer and manager, with a strong work ethic and a remarkable ability to quickly absorb new concepts from outside her areas of expertise. She is an active mentor and role model for other young professionals and is widely recognized for her dedication and professionalism.
Spencer, a resident of Newport, Rhode Island, was also selected to receive the Technology Rising Star Award. Spencer joined Division Newport in 2009 as a financial manager and in 2017 became the financial lead for the USW Electromagnetic Systems Department. She oversees the technical project management functional areas for financial and contracts execution. She also manages planning, analysis and evaluation of financial metrics and program effectiveness, as well as preparation of technical project management business data for financial analysis and assessment of performance.
In 2018, in addition to her job responsibilities, Spencer was selected to be the special emphasis program manager (SEPM) of equal employment opportunity and affirmative employment efforts for African-American employment at Division Newport. As SEPM, she has created multiple events and jump-started initiatives to recognize employees in underrepresented groups in the workforce. As part of the commemoration of Division Newport’s 150th anniversary this year, she established the first Black History showcase, which was on prominent display for the month of February.
Selected in 2017 as one of 12 Division Newport representatives, Spencer attended the first Leadership in a Diverse Environment training event at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Virginia. A total of 150 attendees from 10 warfare center divisions completed the training, which addressed the challenges and opportunities facing women in leadership.
Spencer and Rivera-Rodriguez will be honored at the CCG Women of Color STEM Conference award ceremony this fall in Detroit, Michigan.
NUWC 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.
Currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, 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 Captain Michael Coughlin, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher’s Island, N.Y., Leesburg, Fla., and Dodge Pond, Conn.