Technical Director discusses Division Newport’s mission at Defense Innovation Days

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport
Story by Public Affairs Office

Date: 09.18.2018
Posted: 09.18.2018 16:48
News ID: 293386
Technical Director discusses Division Newport’s mission at Defense Innovation Days

NEWPORT, R.I. — The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Technical Director Ronald Vien, SES, spoke about “Innovation from the Undersea Technology Perspective” during Defense Innovation Days sponsored by the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) on Aug. 28 at the Marriott in Newport, R.I.

The Division’s mission – “Undersea Superiority, Today and Tomorrow” – is a three-pronged approach, comprising people, processes and results, Vien said.

Involvement at an early age characterizes the Division’s student outreach program, which supports the people facet. For instance, Division personnel teach fourth graders how to make ice cream so they gain an understanding of how material transforms from one form into another. Middle school students are reached through mathematics competitions and are taught how to work with tools through the Green Light for Girls program.

The summer Undersea Technology Apprentice Program reaches high school students who, during a three-week session, are introduced to engineering by building and operating the SeaPerch, a remotely controlled underwater vehicle. Additional SeaPerch programs can lead to the Office of Naval Research’s International SeaPerch competitions. This year, the International SeaPerch Challenge was hosted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Both middle and high school students are also involved with the command’s other robotics programs – from calculator-controlled Lego League robots to complex, multi-tasked machines that compete nationally in the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Program.

The college internship program, which is where Vien himself got his start at NUWC, is the source for many future employees.

Regarding process, Vien spoke of the newly signed three-year landmark agreement with the Undersea Technology Innovation Consortium (UTIC) of Middletown, R.I., to provide cutting-edge undersea and maritime technologies. The agreement provides the Navy with Other Transaction Authority (OTA) designed to make delivery of these technologies and related prototypes faster and more efficient than traditional federal acquisition requirements might normally permit. The ultimate goal is to deliver the needed innovative solutions to the men and women of our armed forces via a faster process.

Vien highlighted several projects where innovative results are visible including meeting the challenge of extending unmanned underwater vehicle endurance by making lithium-ion batteries more efficient

and safer. He also pointed to the development of thermal acoustic transducers using emerging nanotube technologies.

He noted NUWC Newport’s bio-inspired sensing technology studies that may eventually have application to man-made systems. The research includes how seals use their whiskers to sense subtle water turbulence and why bats do not bump into each other even when thousands are flying out of a cave.

“Can we reverse engineer bat sonar to develop a micro-aperture, high-resolution imaging sonar?” asked Vien as he explained the purpose of such studies.

Vien also discussed the increasingly important field of cybersecurity and the need to search for solutions across a wide range of technologies to overcome potential cyber threats.

“This is the war that’s happening right now,” he said.

Vien concluded by highlighting NUWC Newport’s 2018 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX), which immediately followed SENEDIA’s Defense Innovation Days. ANTX offers a unique collaborative environment to try new technologies and to apply others in novel applications across the undersea warfare enterprise.

“With its theme of ‘Human Machine Interaction,’ ANTX offers innovation from the undersea,” he said.

NUWC Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Division Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures. NUWC’s other division is located in Keyport, Washington.