NAWCWD teams recognized for innovation, excellence

NAWCWD teams recognized for innovation, excellenceBy AARON CRUTCHFIELD and KIMBERLY BROWN


Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division recognized three teams for outstanding contributions and innovative spirit with NAWCWD Innovation Awards in a May 19 announcement from Executive Director Joan Johnson.

Due to current Force Health Protection measures, the command did not hold an in-person ceremony. Recognizing the winners, however, just could not wait.

“We do so many amazing things here and the innovators on our teams deserve to be recognized,” Johnson said. “The COVID-19 pandemic can disrupt the ceremony, but we can’t allow it to disrupt the critical work we do for the warfighter. They depend on the creative solutions and innovative spirit these teams exemplify.”

Teammates were recognized in three categories.

The Innovation in Technology Award recognizes achievements in the development of new or enhanced materials, hardware, software, or tools that demonstrate an ability to deliver new capabilities that make U.S. naval forces more lethal. The Project Locust team, comprised of Albert Duenez, Arianna Halamandaris, An Thanh Le, Barak Li-Or, Crystian Marron, Johnathan Midolo, Jason Moore, Ashley Sharma, and Kevin Toste, took the award this year.

In just three months, the team successfully prototyped and tested a technically innovative, low-cost, and easily deployable Electronic Warfare hardware and software systems swarming solution to counter new and emerging complex radar threat systems.

Dr. Andrew Chen, Offensive EW Systems Engineering Division head, nominated the team.

“They had great success with Project LOCUST as a technology solution,” Chen said, “but the most critical part of success is not the technology; it’s the people putting it together. It is paramount that we take the time to thank and celebrate them to establish and expand NAWCWD’s culture of excellence. Without people, there is no excellence.”

The Section 233 Team won the Innovation in Business Award, which recognizes achievements in new approaches used to improve performance, support decision making, provide meaningful insight to existing processes or change how NAWCWD is conducting business. The team is comprised of Collin Kyte, Shannon VanMeter, Michael Lazaro, Kady Meyn, Jerry Poteet, Diane Legere-Jump, Brittanie Byrne, Paul Walters Jessica Thatcher, Jessica Santana, Bill Cowley, Michael Stafford, Stephanie Hudson, Tracy Lind, Charles Harper, and Sheryl Allen.

The team approved 16 initiatives aimed at speeding procurement. Examples include: Purchase card threshold increase from $3,500 to $10,000; Management and Oversight Process for the Acquisition of Services and Acquisition Plan NAWCWD approval threshold increase from $100 million to $250 million; Source Selection Advisory Council threshold increase from $100 million to $250 million; and facilities work.

Trish Gresham with the Corporate Business and Analysis Group nominated the Section 233 Team. She said these initiatives saved thousands of days in FY2019, with the purchase card limit increase saving 95,000 days with the 30-day lead-time changed to same-day ordering.

“These are significant reductions in procurement cycle-time, which speeds the delivery of new and improved capabilities to the operational users,” she said.

The Innovation Inception Award, which recognizes individual or team contributions that are cross functional and potentially game-changing because of a unique concept design, went to the EPIC (ESDP/NP Process Improvement Committee) Team, composed of Jessica McKenna, William Jinkins, Megan Lerman and Vanessa Silva. The team updated and improved the way that the ESDP/NP Guided Orientation program is implemented.

“I am really excited for the team to get this recognition,” McKenna said. “It would not be possible without each and every team member, past and present, and the leadership and volunteers that empower us every week.”

In 2019, EPIC developed a training curriculum, guided orientation, for newly hired engineers and scientists with content from 64 unique departments, covering areas of technical, professional, and personal development. EPIC employed the mantra “Content, Consistency, Convenience” to create a schedule for development that fit the unique needs of the NAWCWD community at both Point Mugu and China Lake.

“Our hope is that ESDP/NP Guided Orientation will streamline onboarding training and provide new hires with valuable resources and a solid network as they progress throughout their careers at NAWCWD,” McKenna said.

Ashley Lemons, ESDP/NP program coordinator, nominated the EPIC team. “By collaborating as a team, they were able to create a beneficial program that allowed newly hired ESDP/NP employees to develop a better understanding of the Navy, the work done at Weapons Division, as well as being an employee of the Federal Government,” she said.

Teams will be presented with certificates and team leads will accept award trophies at a later date.

Pictured: Joan Johnson, NAWCWD executive director, checks out the NAWCWD Innovation in Business Award prototype with Richard Chairez. — U.S. Navy photo by Renee Hatcher

Story First Published: 2020-06-05