Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Local High School and Middle School Students learned about Navy technology research and development during tours of Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD), August 3.
These tours are part of the Greater Philadelphia Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center Summer Camp (GPSC), and the STEM-UP Leadership Experience. The Navy sponsors both of these programs through NSWCPD’s partnership with Temple University. The partnership’s goals include increasing student interest in STEM careers, particularly in engineering, power and energy, and national security and defense.
The GPSC’s curriculum is specifically Navy STEM-focused. The tours serve as the capstone event of the programs.
This year, the STEM-UP and GPSC tours provided 75 students the opportunity to learn hands-on about electrical systems, tour engineering test sites and research labs, and also find out about future internships.
Engaging with the community is important to NSWCPD as a way to plant the seeds of interest in a career as a Navy Civilian engineer. NSWCPD developed a new STEM Outreach Charter in 2017 and hosts multiple STEM-focused programs for students and schools from across the Philadelphia area.
“Events like these are very important for the future of the Navy,” said Fred Williams, NSWCPD mechanical engineer. “It's important to give back to the community and this camp enables the command to have an immediate impact in the Greater Philadelphia Area.”
During his introduction, NSWCPD Chief Engineer Sean Brennan spoke of the importance of STEM learning. He explained that math and science create the building blocks of human understanding, and that technology couldn’t exist without that knowledge. Brennan believes that an engineer cannot be effective without understanding these building blocks.
“You cannot get to engineering without math, science, and technology,” Brennan said to the students.
Students learned the concepts behind electrical systems, and also had the hands-on task of creating one. Their systems used desk fans to simulate propulsion motors and LED’s to simulate weapons platforms. NSWCPD engineers were on hand to guide the students in learning to read an electrical diagram in order to build their systems.
Next, students separated into groups to tour test sites and observe technical demonstrations. Groups toured the Anechoic Chamber, the Shock and Vibe lab, the DDG 51 Land Based Engineering Site (LBES), and the Advanced Data Acquisition Prototyping Technology & Virtual Environments (ADAPT.VE) lab. They also attended demonstrations of the Man Overboard Indicator (MOBI) and the Special Transport Omnidirectional Robot for Metrology Scanner (STORMS). During the tours, students had the chance to interact with technology and engage NSWCPD’s subject matter experts. At the Anechoic Chamber site, engineer Kevin Agnew discussed his path from a Navy Sailor electrician’s mate, to his current role as a Navy Civilian engineer. He explained how many different types of engineering, mathematics, and sciences are involved with his work.
“I still use all those equations,” Agnew told the tour group. “Do I remember them off the top of my head? No. I still use my old textbooks.”
Agnew explained how the anechoic chamber’s triangle-lined walls stop sound-energy to create an ultra-quiet environment. After a moment of consideration, a student’s eyes lit up. The student asked if sound is energy, then could the sound captured by the walls be converted into electricity?
“Yes!” Agnew said. “It’s not practical today; but there were things that were considered impossible when I was in the Navy, that are now commonplace.”
In the ADAPT.VE lab, students got a chance to see how the Navy utilizes 3-D modeling and additive manufacturing. Patrick Violante and Scott Storms explained how the lab uses laser metrology to create equipment prototypes, and also is able to create virtual environments that simulate areas aboard a ship.
Engineer Vince Anzideo demonstrated the STORMS robot system. The robot incorporates a metrology scanner and is able to scan areas otherwise not possible. The robot was initially designed to scan the inside of an aircraft carrier’s nuclear reactor. Now, it is being applied to other important uses. The STORMS robot impressed students, and even some of the tour guides.
“I learned that our robotics team is teaming up with the ADAPT.VE lab to reach areas that are too risky to send somebody to scan,” said summer intern Matthew Knighton, who was helping out as a tour guide for this visit. “I think that is a great idea.”
The robotics demonstration showed the importance that collaboration holds for engineering. It also sparked engagement.
“The students have asked a lot of questions,” Anzideo said. “They were really interested, it was great.”
After the tours, students had the opportunity to talk with current interns about their experiences at NSWCPD. Stephanie Davidson, NSWCPD’s intern coordinator, explained to the students that programs like the summer camp shows their initiative, and can also add value to their resumes. Davidson talked to the students about upcoming internship opportunities and walked the students through the application process.
“We hope to see you back here as an intern in the future,” Davidson told the students.
NSWCPD provides the Navy's primary technical expertise for naval machinery research and development and in-service engineering, as well as machinery cybersecurity and lifecycle engineering.