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Scientists, engineers across NAVWAR win Dr. Delores M. Etter awards

04 June 2024

From Maison Piedfort, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific

Last month 20 people across Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), including four individuals and three teams, won 2024 Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards for their contributions to the Department of the Navy (DON).
SAN DIEGO — Last month 20 people across Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), including four individuals and three teams, won 2024 Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards for their contributions to the Department of the Navy (DON).

Winners from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific, NIWC Atlantic, and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) demonstrated professionalism and dedication in promoting scientific and engineering excellence within the DON.

“I’m so proud of all our scientists and engineers, and everyone who supports their work. It’s great to see this recognition from the Navy for what we see every day from these amazing people,” NAVWAR Commander Rear Adm. Doug Small said.

PEO C4I’s NORTH Joint Capability Technology Development (JCTD) Team won in the Teams category with contributors across the enterprise for demonstrating the capability to automatically form and sustain digital high-frequency mesh communication networks across large geographical areas. Thanks to their efforts, a rapidly deployable, government-owned software suite will provide legacy U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and joint service radios and modems to communicate on the same internet protocol-based network, providing resilient long-haul communications networks for critical missions.

The team, led by James Mahan, technical director for NORTH JCTD at NAVWAR, included:

From NIWC Atlantic
· Jay Smith, engineer
· Larry Verhelle, engineer

From NIWC Pacific
· Michael Daly, Ph.D., supervisor
· John Rockway, Ph.D., engineer
· Michael Luong, supervisor
· Demi Truong, engineer
· Francisco Raygoza, engineer
· Joshua Stein, engineer

Two NIWC Atlantic teams also won awards in the Teams category. The NIWC Atlantic U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Product Team IT Services team developed and implemented a 5G Wireless Shore Tie solution that provides low-cost, highly scalable wireless pier-side connectivity, enabling high-speed, reliable, and resilient data connectivity while entering, exiting, and in port. Their solution reduced operational costs of maintaining the legacy pier cables and eliminated connectivity issues for the deployed crew when coming into port. The team includes:

· Cecil Williams, scientist
· Stephen Stogner, IT specialist
· Horace Anderson, III, IT specialist

The Ground Air Transmitter Receiver Team developed a method to establish air traffic control (ATC) communications via a ground air transmitter receiver, establishing connections for transmission between Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. The NIWC Atlantic project team designed and tested a solution using readily available systems belonging to the Air Force and assembled a prototype in the NIWC Atlantic ATC facility. Once verified, the team procured the materials and worked with the El Centro and Yuma facilities to install the system, route communications, and install supporting infrastructure, all within a few months, resulting in more than $1 million in cost savings. The team includes:

· Kevin Rowe, engineer
· M. Todd Eckrich, engineer
· Michael Pawlak, technician
· Luis Carvajal, engineer and supervisor
· Christopher Nuckols, engineer

From NIWC Pacific, Ramiro Rodriguez won an Emergent Engineer Award for advancing quantum technology with his contributions to the adaptive quantum machine learning and signal intelligence and communications fields. Among other achievements, he developed and executed the first application to sense remote broadcast stations, a leap in quantum computing. Advances in quantum technology provide the DDD novel capabilities in dynamic scheduling, routing, and control mechanisms so networks can deliver traffic efficiently and reliably.

Also from NIWC Pacific, Michael Nappi won an Individual Engineer Award for his technical contributions and leadership across engineering, acquisition, and operational communities. His discernment of complex problem sets and commitment to modernizing, optimizing, and securing the DON’s IT landscape both afloat and ashore contributed to the revolutionary design and rapid execution of a transformational cloud architecture. This effort shapes how the DOD delivers, protects, and manages data and information systems worldwide.

“The Commanding Officer and I are extremely proud of your accomplishments and your many efforts to deliver the best there is in fleet capability and readiness. Well done!” said NIWC Pacific Executive Director Michael McMillan to award winners.

From NIWC Atlantic, Robert Younts, Ph.D., won an Emerging Scientist award for developing two prototypes for resilient and enhanced Naval communications in contested environments. Once matured, these optical and quantum approaches to enhanced Naval communications will enable the Navy and Marine Corps to sense and communicate in contested environments while reducing risk of exposure to adversary capabilities.

Also from NIWC Atlantic, Jonathan James won an Individual Engineer award for his work on the Tactical Service Oriented Architecture (TSOA). James established Java Script Object Notation schema application programming interface connections, enabling rapid connection of authorized data sources to TSOA. These data sources can be combined to provide one common operating picture for all TSOA users.

“The level of professionalism and dedication to our mission and the warfighter that our NIWC Atlantic award winners have shown is truly unparalleled and drives us toward our vision to win the information war,” said Capt. Nicole Nigro, NIWC Atlantic commanding officer. “Congratulations to all the winners. It’s a great honor to be selected for this prestigious recognition and these accolades showcase how our workforce helps drive innovation as the technical backbone of the Navy.”

Winners will be recognized in an award ceremony at the Pentagon June 12.

NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.
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