Engineers Contributing to Submarine Force's Mission Visit Navy's Newest Submarine

Story Number: NNS111027-05Release Date: 10/27/2011 2:44:00 PM
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By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 20 future and current engineers visited Pre-Commissioning Unit California (SSN 781) for a familiarization tour Oct. 25.

Two future engineers from Sweet Briar College, an all-women's liberal arts college located in Amherst, Va., and current engineers from Northrop Grumman Corporation in Charlottesville, Va., toured the eighth ship in the Virginia-class to gain a perspective how engineering efforts affect warfighter operations.

The Northrop Grumman group was led by William Jones, an Electronic Chart Display and Information System - Navy (ECDIS-N) program manager producing voyage management system (VMS) software for navigation. Jones, a master chief who retired from the Navy after serving 30 years and whose last assignment was onboard the newly commissioned USS North Carolina (SSN 777), the fourth Virginia-class submarine, said his engineers designed software but had never been on a submarine prior to the visit.

"I participated in this tour today to show our engineers essentially how the software is being implemented," said Jones. "Visiting California gave them perspective which is greatly different from reading and developing code."

Cassidy Leigh Jones, a 2011 graduate from Sweet Briar College participated in the tour for similar reasons.

"I thought it was a good idea to tour with colleagues from Sweet Briar," said Jones, who is employed by Babcock & Wilcox, Lynchburg, Va.

Bethany Brinkman, instructor of Engineering at Sweet Briar, highlighted the importance of inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

"This was an awesome opportunity, especially for the students to see the end result and practical application of all the hard work that was instrumental in reaching commissioning date," said Brinkman.

The college began offering engineering as a major six years ago.

"It has become one of the most popular majors," Brinkman added.

The Navy has a longstanding relationship with Sweet Briar College to promote engineering and women owned small business opportunities. Since 2003, the school has hosted six Team Submarine sponsored Women Owned Small Business Conferences. By participating in these conferences Sweet Briar engineering students have been exposed to the Navy's shipbuilding and weapons systems business sector. Additionally, Team Submarine's Virginia Class Program Office helped facilitate the Sweet Briar College representatives' tour of California.

PCU California will be commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Station Norfolk. The ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., will be streamed live on

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