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    Carderock employees accept technical director’s challenge to innovate

    Carderock employees accept technical director’s challenge to innovate

    Photo By Dustin Q. Diaz | Allan Demmelmaier and Mike Anslow with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock...... read more read more



    Story by Dustin Q. Diaz 

    Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

    The third edition of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s (NSWCCD) command-wide innovation contest concluded with outbriefs open to all Carderock employees in West Bethesda, Maryland, June 1.

    The fiscal year 2016 Technical Director’s Innovation Challenge (TDIC) is open to all federal employees at Carderock and modeled after Google’s “20-percent”concept to provide employees time and funding for projects to address stakeholder needs, whether perceived or unperceived, with an emphasis on human-centered design.

    “Thirty years ago, who would have thought that you needed a smartphone? And now, it would be hard to imagine life without them. A TDIC proposal could be something to provide a stated need by a program office, or it could be something completely different like that,” said Dr. Tim Arcano, NSWCCD technical director. “Another distinguishing feature of TDIC is it’s not just open to the scientists and engineers here, it’s open to all employees to pursue all types of innovation. Whether it’s operations, management, contracting or anything else we do here, it’s very important that we work on these things as one team.”

    Arcano created the TDIC in 2014 to tap into the passion and ingenuity of all of Carderock’s workforce and break down barriers to innovation, operating on the premise that business process and policy innovation is just as valid as technical innovation. Prospective participants from all of Carderock’s technical and business areas can submit a proposal answering questions about how their idea will address the needs of Carderock’s stakeholders, including but not limited to Navy and Marine Corps warfighters and maintainers, the Office of Naval Research and contract and information technology functions. These ideas are briefed to Arcano and other senior leaders at phases of development and they decide at each phase if the proposal will receive initial or continued funding, taken from a mix of discretionary overhead and Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (Section 219) money.

    Garth Jensen, Carderock’s director of innovation, called the TDIC projects the intersection between two forces: one, an individual at Carderock with a burning passion for a need or a problem that keeps them up at night, and the second, what he calls the force of enlightened leadership.

    “Dr. Arcano, our department heads and leadership recognize that giving people space, availability of time and an opportunity to set aside some time and try to do something that may be out of the norm is a rare commodity,” Jensen said. “This is one of the few places I’ve seen that recognizes at that level that leadership doesn’t have a monopoly on the answers and they don’t even have a monopoly on the questions that need to be asked. By opening it up to the workforce, it’s a very explicit statement to that effect. I’m glad our presenters today decided to take a leap and jump into this opportunity all the way.”

    According to Jensen, eight to 10 new starts are typically selected each year, with one to two continuing on from the previous year. This year’s presenters outbriefed six new projects, including next-generation surface treatments (new ways of painting ships) from Allan Demmelmeier and Mike Anslow from the Combatant Craft Division; a human-centered design digital collaborative toolbox from Paul Andron and Nathan Hagan (Code 6540); a Shark Tank-like approach to funding innovation by Johnnie Deloach (Code 61) and Dave Sudduth (Code 617); voice-to-printed word applications from Ray Alexander (Code 61); unmanned underwater vehicle design tools from Ben Kassel (Code 8230) and Michael Goodman (Code 8202); and haptic technology for structural health monitoring from Benjamin Grisso (Code 654).

    Alexander said his application came about when he thought about the volume of knowledge exchanged at Carderock, in meetings and daily work, that is not recorded and thus, a lot is forgotten. He said he was resistant to smartphone technology at first, but when he finally bought one, he made frequent use of the voice-to-text functions and wondered why that couldn’t be used at Carderock. Though he comes from the operational side of Carderock’s work and wasn’t involved in projects like TDIC before, he said he talked about his ideas to Dr. Judy Conley, Carderock’s science and technology coordinator (Code 65), and she helped him write a proposal for TDIC.

    With the help of Conley, Harry Whittaker (Code 821), Jonathan Hopkins (Code 6102) and other Carderock employees, Alexander navigated the project’s logistics and ended up with a final product that exceeded his expectations. In working with different departments, getting on the phone directly with potential commercial partners and using other typically unorthodox methods to solve the challenges in delivering on his proposal, he lived up to TDIC’s call to innovate processes and methods along with technological innovation.

    “I know that sometimes folks can be frustrated about the difficulty of initiating change,” Alexander said. “All this is brand new to me and I had help from a lot of people with it, but we managed to create a product while returning much of the funding since we were able to work cheaply. I hope more folks will get involved, from both the technical and support sides.”

    The final two presentations were updates on programs that have transitioned to the fleet, including remote data transfer technologies and practices from Scott O’Friel (Code 7332) and Michael Slater (Code 7300), and a longitudinal study of the New Hire Bridge (NHB) by Carderock employee and NHB founder Trisha Shields (Code 882).

    Shields joined Carderock in 2006 and founded the New Hire Bridge, a networking and professional development organization for federal employees in their first five years at the command. Her TDIC project was a long-long-term longitudinal study of the initial NHB cohort. She said she is still analyzing the data from the project, since it will require a great deal of time to do so, but she gets the time she does through thanks to TDIC’s allotment time to work on innovation.

    Shields took the idea for NHB from a previous job, believing that building one’s professional network is a critical component in building their career and that NHB was an effective way to do so. Her TDIC project expanded through the three phases of development and again last year when she administered the survey to Carderock’s entire non-contractor workforce.

    “With the full longitudinal study we will hopefully be able to identify trends that can inform programs and policies,” Shields said. “The goal is to be able to continually assess the career health of Carderock employees.”

    Arcano said this was his final outbrief as technical director, since he retires later this year.

    “I think every single proposal here has an application we can use, so that’s great work,” Arcano said. “I’m proud of the innovations that your hard work has produced through TDIC and its effect on our employees and our culture. It’s been wonderful being this program’s sponsor and I look forward to seeing what happens with these proposals in the future. Thanks to all of you for what you’ve done here, and of course thank you to our esteemed guests in attendance, as well.”

    These guests included Dr. Megan Fillnic, who became the Naval Surface Warfare Center chief technology officer last month and participated in question-and-answer sessions with TDIC’s presenters, along with the other VIPs from government and industry. The TDIC will carry on in fiscal year 2018, with all proposals for the fourth edition submitted as of June 2.



    Date Taken: 06.01.2017
    Date Posted: 06.09.2017 12:10
    Story ID: 237060
    Location: WEST BETHESDA, MD, US

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