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University students visit NUWC Division Newport for Naval Engineering Education Consortium Day

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Story by Public Affairs Office on 04/09/2018
NEWPORT, R.I. Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC) Day at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport brought together students, professors and NUWC mentors for presentations and tours on March 21.

Students from the University of Rhode Island, Boston University, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Virginia Tech gathered to learn about NUWC Newport and share their research. The experience is designed to help achieve NEEC's goal of attracting trained professionals into careers associated with the technologies of the surface and submarine fleet.

Dr. Elizabeth Magliula, NUWC Newport's NEEC director and a mechanical engineer, hosted the event and put together an agenda that allowed the students to learn more about NUWC, its research areas and employment opportunities.

"The NEEC program is important to the warfare centers because it helps attract new professionals across technical fields associated with the complex technologies used by the Navy, and increases and maintains a knowledge base for these increasingly sophisticated technologies," Magliula said. "NEEC also offers students who may be interested in pursuing civilian science and engineering careers with the Navy the opportunity to investigate real Navy challenges while working with university faculty and NAVSEA warfare center mentors. NEEC gives students an opportunity to work at unique facilities, encourages them to think critically, refine their problem-solving skills and seek out innovative solutions. Summer internships via the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program further expose NEEC students to the technical skills that they need to succeed in solving challenges integral to the Navy."

"Professors and Navy researchers work in partnership to identify those students interested in serving in the Navy's civilian service," Kirk Jenne, NEEC director for the warfare centers, said. "As opportunities arise, students are expected to participate in internships at warfare centers designed to help them grow their potential to become part of the Navy's science and engineering workforce."

"In fiscal year 2017, NEEC shifted from establishing contracts to awarding grants with the universities," Magliula said. "Grant awards give mentors and government subject matter experts the flexibility to actively engage with university researchers, and foster a collaborative relationship."

All 10 warfare centers have multiple NEEC projects in the works collaborating with schools such as University of California Riverside, Purdue University, Arizona State University, Florida Atlantic University and Washington State University.

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 projects presented at NUWC Newport's NEEC Day included:

"High Performance Control for Agile Undersea Vehicles," URI
"Bio-inspired Broadband Sonar," Virginia Tech
"Wave-based Analysis of Distributed Acoustic Sensor Networks," Boston University
"Shock Response of Composites Subjected to Aggressive Marine Environments," URI
"Bragg Scattering in Ensonified Periodic Structures," University of Massachusetts Lowell
After their presentations, a panel of new professionals at NUWC Newport answered questions and a human resources representative discussed employment opportunities within the federal workforce. The day ended with the students and professors touring lab spaces such as the Rapid Innovation Center, the Unmanned Underwater Vehicles Lab and the Survivability Lab.

Senior Technologist Dr. Robert Koch, from NUWC Newport's Chief Technology Office, provided the group with an overview of NUWC Newport and its research.

"NEEC gives them a chance to see what the Navy does and do research that we like. It's a long interview," Koch said. "The program has three objectives: Acquire academic research results that address Navy technological challenges, hire students, and continue to develop exceptional working relationships with naval engineering colleges, universities, professors and academicians."

Kevin Chow, a first year graduate student from Boston University, worked on the "Wave-based Analysis of Distributed Acoustic Sensor Networks" project with his team.

"I was interested in the project my group was doing," Chow said. "I'm interested in robotics and unmanned systems."

Dean Conte, Lucas Mun and Brandon Walker, three Virginia Tech sophomores, made the drive from Blacksburg, Va., to Newport with their professor Rolf Mueller to attend NEEC Day and present their research on bio-inspired sonar.

"The research is really cool," Conte said. "It was the subject matter that got us involved in NEEC."

Along with Koch, other NUWC Newport NEEC mentors are: Dr. David Beal, Dr. James LeBlanc, Dr. Jason Gaudette and Dr. Andy Hull.

LeBlanc works with his former URI professor Arun Shukla, who was also his advisor for his master's and doctorate degree programs. LeBlanc earned his doctorate while working at NUWC Newport and transitioned his doctorate work into a long-term collaboration with Shukla and URI.

"We've been collaborating continuously since 2005," LeBlanc said. "It's come full circle because now we have graduate students working with us. The program also opens doors to partnering with URI and their unique facilities."

LeBlanc also is an adjunct professor at URI and has sat on thesis committees for many of NUWC Newport's NEEC students.

"We try to persuade undergraduate students to pursue advanced degrees, and we try to bring in as many as we can. Everyone who is eligible to be here is here," LeBlanc said. "They come to NUWC Newport for two or three summers and the branch heads get familiar with them. It's easier for the students to transition because they've already had experience at NUWC."

"A major objective of NEEC is to develop and continue exceptional working relationships with naval engineering colleges, universities and professors," Magliula said. "NEEC is committed to attracting and retaining new professionals whose expertise align with technology areas that will shape future designs for Navy platforms. NAVSEA warfare center leadership is dedicated to a long-term investment in research and development at universities."

NUWC Division Newport, part of NAVSEA, is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport's mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC's other division is located in Keyport, Wash.

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