Students and faculty from universities across the country gathered at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport for an annual meeting of the Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC) held on June 15.
NEEC Director Sally Sutherland-Pietrzak, Naval Surface and Undersea Warfare Centers, and Dr. Elizabeth Magliula, NUWC Division Newport’s NEEC director, organized “NEEC Day 2022” that included presentations, a poster session, networking and lab tours.
NEEC, which is implemented at the 10 warfare centers of the Naval Sea Systems Command, executes projects that target the Navy’s most relevant technology needs. The program has three main objectives — acquire academic research results that address Navy technological challenges; hire talented students; and develop exceptional working relationships with science and engineering colleges, universities, professors, and academics.
Dr. Brett Seidle, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Engineering, kicked off “NEEC Day 2022” via a Teams meeting.
“What we’re doing plays a critical role in achieving goals on multiple fronts,” Seidle said. “It’s strengthening the cadre of scientists we have and strengthening our partnerships with academia. Warfare Centers bring technical capability to the Navy and the nation. Our impact on success will be about technical advantage. It’s important to have innovation. This program allows us to build strong bridges. There are 440 science and engineering students participating in NEEC efforts. If you’re working on our Navy’s problems right now, we’d love to have you come work for us.”
Some NEEC students shared their work via a poster session while others gave briefings on their projects. Those presentations included:
“Defending against emerging software security attacks by enhanced hardware-tagged memory,” by Jae-Won Jang, Virginia Tech
“Recent Advances in Control of Autonomous Maritime Vehicles for MCM Missions,” by Daniel Le, University of Florida
“Development of Cryogenic dielectrics for Superconductors,” by Jacob Mahon, Rowan University
“Toward Attack-Resilient Machine Learning: Countermeasures,” by J. Hollis and S. Milsap, Oregon State
“Coordination of Multiple Autonomous UUVs: Perception Testing/Development Via an Underwater Sensor System,” by Hannah Arnholt, University of New Hampshire
“Optically understanding the history of polymer stress,” by Alex Farnsworth, Brigham Young University
“Magnetic Induction Communication for UUVs – Experimental Results,” by J. Macinko and P. Wolczko, Washington State University-Bremerton
Following a networking lunch, NEEC attendees took walking tours of some of Division Newport’s unique laboratories including the Naval Array Technical Support Center, the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Lab, the Anechoic Chamber, Water Tunnel, and Wind Tunnel as well as the Virginia Payload Facility.
The tours were eye-opening for many of the students.
“I was surprised by the breadth and scope of the research and capabilities [at Division Newport] and I was surprised by the amount of stuff done in-house,” Alex Farnsworth, a student at Brigham Young University, said.
Christopher Khan of Vanderbilt University, agreed. “I wasn’t expecting as much manufacturing as there was,” he said.
“I knew it was a research center but I didn’t know there was that much of it,” Joseph Howard of Vanderbilt University said.
University projects parallel warfare center technical capabilities, including (but not limited to): advanced materials, advanced sensor technologies, autonomous systems, machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence. Projects address a wide range of Navy technology areas including naval surface and air range systems engineering, naval systems material readiness assessment, sensors and surveillance systems, surface combat control systems and unmanned systems engineering and integration.
“The collaborations supported by the NEEC program are beneficial for both sides. For the students, it provides a real-world opportunity to work on practical technology and to get a glimpse of the kinds of work Navy engineers and scientists spend their time on professionally,” Magliula said. “For the Navy, the energy and fresh perspectives the students bring to the projects provide solutions to critical technological challenges facing the fleet.”
Along with Magliula, NEEC directors from the following warfare centers attended the event: Steve Mastro, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Philadelphia Division; Karon Myles, NSWC Corona Division; Coit Hendley, NSWC Indian Head Division; Karen Smith, NSWC Dahlgren Division; and Thai Tran, NUWC Keyport Division. Other directors include Charlotte George, NSWC Carderock Division; Bryan Woolsey, NSWC Crane Division; Matt Bays, NSWC Panama City Division; and Ramon Flores, NSWC Port Hueneme Division.
“Machine-Learning Enabled Estimation Approach for Real-Time Plume and Source Tracking with a Network of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles,” Worcester Polytechnic Institute
“Deep Evolutionary Reinforcement Learning for Integrated Sensor Design, Dynamics, and Acoustic Target Recognition,” Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
“Sensing and Computational Methods Enabling Edge Computing for Autonomous Platforms,” Baylor University
“An Adaptive Deep Learning Architecture with FPGA Acceleration for Continuously Monitoring and Characterizing Operations and Promptly Reconfiguring SDR in Spectrum Contested Environments,” University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
“Cyber-Physical Threat Management for Undersea Warfare Systems,” Washington State University
Division Newport scientists and engineers who serve as NEEC mentors are subject matter experts for the NEEC projects and engage with the faculty and students to help guide the projects. NEEC students have the opportunity to apply for the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) program and, if chosen, they work full time with their NEEC mentors over the summer to potentially further their project and experience working at a warfare center.
“As the Navy looks towards the future, our engineers must be adaptable, flexible, and able to keep up with ever-emerging technological advances,” Magliula said. “The NEEC program is an exceptional way to acquire academic research results that address Navy challenges, hire top-tier students into our work force, and continue to develop extraordinary working relationships with naval engineering colleges, universities, and professors.”
“My goals for ‘NEEC Day 2022’ were for the students to see the opportunities for an interesting and meaningful career at a warfare center and for the faculty to learn about the potential for collaboration opportunities that benefit both their university and the U.S. Navy,” Sutherland-Pietrzak said.
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