PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) hosted 12 members of Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet's Scientists to Sea program.
The Scientists to Sea program aims to give a greater understanding of shipboard system employment and requirements to the engineers and scientists who design them.
Dr. Michael Keegan, a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory, participated in the event and highlighted the value of the program.
"We design many of the systems used aboard U.S. Navy ships, but we rarely get to see how they're being used," said Keegan. "Visiting with the Sailors who operate this equipment daily gives us an idea of how the systems we design are employed and how they might be improved."
Keegan also said part of his job is to help the Navy stay innovative.
"To me, innovation is technology plus user information," said Keegan. "We help with the technology part; Sailors provide the user information. Combining the two is how we help the Navy stay innovative."
Makin Island's Executive Officer Capt. Mark Melson addressed the group upon their arrival.
"Having this group aboard facilitates dialogue between the system designer and the end user," said Melson. "It's an invaluable opportunity for our Sailors to engage those who design the systems we employ everyday and to offer direct, honest feedback on what works, and frankly, what doesn't."
Derick Schmidt, a systems lead at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport emphasized the value in visiting the ship and meeting the Sailors.
"As a former Marine, I enjoy talking to service members," said Schmidt. "It's the best way to understand how the Navy uses the equipment that we design, and it's an excellent way to learn what we can do to better support the warfighter."
During the four-day underway, the 12 Scientist to Sea members had the opportunity to tour spaces and visit with Sailors from every department aboard, as well as witness shipboard operations firsthand.
The tour was designed to provide an overview and understanding of basic shipboard organization and operations, while also giving scientists with various backgrounds the opportunity to hold in-depth discussions with subject matter experts about the equipment and systems that interested them the most.
"The information [systems] technicians gave me a lot of feedback on the computer and hard drive systems in use," said Schmidt. "We will be able to go back and suggest changes to some of the software used. Being able to come aboard and learn how we could possibly improve things or make them more user-friendly is exactly what we came here to do."
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.