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Retired NUWC Division Newport scientist earns DON Meritorious Civilian Service Award

Story by NUWC Story by Public Affairs Office

Dr. Donald H. Steinbrecher, who retired as chief scientist in the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department in March, has earned the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the third highest honorary civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Navy.

Steinbrecher, a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, launched his 22-year career at Division Newport in 1998, and amassed a long list of significant scientific contributions benefiting both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy. This award recognizes his achievements as chief scientist from 2002-22.

As chief scientist, he maintained a technology roadmap and represented the department on Division Newport’s Science and Technology Council. His software-defined air interface concept won the Chief of Naval Research’s Million Dollar Challenge for Innovative Ideas in 2007.

In addition to that award, Steinbrecher has earned multiple other awards/honors including: the 2019 Office of Naval Research Fred E. Saalfeld Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Science the 2018 Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers-United States of America Harry Diamond Memorial Award. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Research in 2007; and the Development and Acquisition Dr. Delores M. Etter Award for Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award in 2007. He also launched the White Nail Innovation Project in 2005 as an investment in the future, to help young scientists and engineers establish technical foundations for their Navy careers while being mentored by senior scientists.

Steinbrecher’s research activity is focused on establishing a leadership role for the Navy in the field of software-defined electromagnetic-signals receiving and transmitting systems. He developed the enabling hardware technology that made possible the original Navy Relocatable Over-The-Horizon (OTH) Radar, which was the first operational wideband OTH radar system to use digital beam forming. His most recent accomplishment was the invention and testing of a new air interface that has an aperture efficiency greater than 90% and an instantaneous bandwidth greater than five octaves.

Steinbrecher is known internationally for his “groundbreaking work in broadband high dynamic range signals acquisition systems, having made significant contributions to the development of the hardware concepts that enabled the evolution of software-defined radios,” the award states. “His exceptional scientific achievements will continue to benefit the defense community well into the future.”



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