WEST BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Employees who made a significant contribution to the Navy and to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in 2016 were honored at the command's annual "Magnificent Eight" award ceremony Aug. 1, 2017, in West Bethesda, Maryland.
The awards are named for Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr.; Rear Adm. Grace M. Hopper; Rear Adm. Benjamin F. Isherwood; Vice Adm. Emory S. Land; Donald F. McCormack, executive director for Naval Surface Warfare Center and Naval Undersea Warfare Center; Rear Adm. George W. Melville; Capt. Harold E. Saunders; and, Rear Adm. David W. Taylor, Carderock's founding father.
"Each of the awards is named for a person that represents a legacy that we should all strive to achieve, most notably their courage, commitment, honor and desire to further the progress of the United States Navy," division Technical Director Dr. Tim Arcano said in his opening remarks. "And all the people here today receiving these awards, as well as those who were nominated, should count themselves as the next generation of luminaries, working to achieve a better, more sophisticated Navy than all other navies."
Arcano introduced the guest speaker, Ana Gulian, deputy executive director for the Naval Surface Warfare Centers. Gulian, the 2010 recipient of the Gravely Award, she said she takes notice of the innovators and disruptors who are central and critical to realizing the greatest possibilities and opportunities.
"Today's award winners possess passion and commitment regarding the central importance of their work, and as members of a working capital fund organization, they also keep an entrepreneur's eye in keeping the competitive advantage," Gulian said. "Most importantly, however, they show a willingness to stretch their ambitions so that we may keep our nation and our Navy's scientific and research institution right at the cutting edge of our global endeavors."
While the majority of awards are given for technical or engineering success, several recognize non-technical roles, including the Gravely Award for achievement in equity and diversity.
This year's recipient of the Gravely Award was JaeLee Waldschmidt, a Carderock engineer detailed to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Waldschmidt was recognized for her dedication to identifying and resolving sources of discrimination and misunderstanding of people who identify, like herself, in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community within Carderock Division, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Department of the Navy.
"As a queer, transgender enlisted, veteran and now civil servant, I'm grateful to live in a time of expanded freedom and acceptance," Waldschmidt said. "As the years ahead bring new challenges to equality, my hope is that every person will make a commitment to themselves and their colleagues to inclusion."
The Hopper Award is given for excellence in organizational support. This award was a tie this year with the award going to Ji Kim, deputy comptroller for Carderock's budget office, and Christine Mitchell, a contracting officer with Carderock's Contracting and Acquisition Department.
Kim was recognized for his contributions leading to improved division audit readiness and providing the data necessary to make sound management decisions at all levels of the organization with reduced risk of budget reductions.
"A big thank you and a shout out to our corporate budget team of the Comptroller Department for their hard work and true dedication," Kim said, giving credit for his success to his co-workers. "Go team, and keep up the good work!"
Mitchell also received the Hopper Award, being recognized for her superior contracting and leadership efforts while facing a challenging year of transition following the realignment of the Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station into the NSWC Philadelphia Division. A group of Mitchell's co-workers were at the ceremony to cheer her on, holding up signs that said, "Well Deserved!" and "Way to Go!"
"Even in trying times, like during the realignment, I'm forever grateful for those people who took the time to teach and mentor me," Mitchell said. "I'm not just talking about the past and present outstanding contracting professionals that I have had the pleasure of working with, but also those of you in the technical community, those who have found the time to make sure that support codes are partners."
The Isherwood Award for exceptional fleet support was given to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Full-Ship Shock Trials Team. About 40 employees from Carderock's Survivability, Structures, Materials and Environmental Department were part of the team, which was led by Henry Joseph (Joe) Venne, branch head for the Underwater Explosion (UNDEX) and Trials Program Office. The team successfully executed the LCS 5 and 6 shock trials back to back in 2016, with overlapping availabilities and one core planning and execution team, something never done before. These shock trials were widely recognized in the news media and on numerous websites, bringing another positive impression of the technical excellence of Carderock.
The Uniform National Discharge Standards (UNDS) Team earned the Land Award, which is given for collaboration excellence. As part of a Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency effort, this Carderock team's contributions culminated in the publication of a Federal Register of discharge performance standards for 11 shipboard liquid waste discharges from armed forces vessels that simplifies and avoids variations between state regulations, enhances operational flexibility and minimizes the cost of environmental compliance for more than 6,000 vessels.
"If there's ever been a program that embodies the concept of collaboration, this would be the one," said Gordon Smith as he listed a couple dozen government agencies the team worked with to accomplish this feat. Smith and Rita Schuh co-led the team, which was made up of employees mostly from Carderock's Wastewater Management Branch.
Similar to the Land Award, the McCormack Award recognizes a small group for collaboration excellence, but across the Warfare Centers. The Warfare Center Test and Evaluation Directors Collaboration Working Group received this award for their improved communication between the Warfare Center commands and their customers; and achieving process efficiencies anticipated to produce significant cost savings and avoidance opportunities.
"A successful team, such as this one, must be focused on and work together towards a common goal. They need to trust one another; and before we trust one another, we must communicate; and before we can effectively communicate, we have to have the courage to step out and engage each other," Paul Luehr said, speaking for the group after accepting the award. "In other words, collaboration is not easy. It's not a simple, one-step process. I'd better define it as a journey, one that I have thoroughly enjoyed."
The Saunders Award, which is given for exemplary technical management, was awarded to Richard Loeffler, the program manager for advanced signature guidance and training systems, for his leadership across the undersea community in the technical management, design and fielding of U.S. Navy systems for fleet tactical decision systems and fleet tactical training systems.
Lawrence Michelon, a senior electronics engineer for the Systems Design and Integration Branch at Carderock's Combatant Craft Division in Norfolk, received the Melville Award for engineering excellence. Michelon was the lead systems engineer and integrator for the first unmanned surface vessel (USV) to transit completely unmanned for 450 nautical miles at an average speed of about 30 knots for 16 hours on Jan. 14, 2016. On May 16, 2016, this USV ran completely unmanned for 24 hours and 552 nautical miles.
The Taylor Award for outstanding scientific achievement was given to Dr. Vadim Belenky, a naval architect with Carderock's Simulations and Analysis Branch, for his research in the field of dynamic stability for the purpose of increasing the safety of ships at sea, including the field of surface ship dynamic stability covering capsizing, surf riding and broaching.
As was the case for each of the award winners, the last three gave credit or thanked other people for their part in the success of each of them.
"Obviously, technical program management is very much a team sport," Loeffler said.
"It's hard as an individual to stand here and accept this award when it really is recognizing a much larger group," Michelon said.
Belenky said he was proud to be here thanking his three "Co's - my co-workers, my co-authors, and the most important, my co-habitants, I mean my family."
Carderock Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Vandroff closed the ceremony saying how worthwhile it is what Carderock does in supporting the warfighter. He said it's especially great to be able to recognize employees for what they do.
"I've said this in the past, but ultimately all businesses are people businesses," Vandroff said. "We say that you're in the engineering business, or you're in the contracts business, ultimately it is all people business. And like many of the award winners said here today, none of this would happen without teamwork and collaboration and all the different people we rely on to do our job."
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, a part of Naval Sea Systems Command, leads the Navy in hull, mechanical and electrical engineering. Headquartered in West Bethesda, Maryland, Carderock Division employs approximately 2,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel and includes detachments in Norfolk, Virginia (Little Creek); Port Canaveral, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Bangor, Washington; Ketchikan, Alaska; and Bayview, Idaho.
Sue Rossi from Carderock's Human Resources Division contributed to this article.
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