Navy Civilian Professionals at Academic Awards Ceremony Observe Moment of Silence in Honor of Fallen Navy Yard Colleagues

By John Joyce, NSWC Dahlgren Division Corporate Communications

DAHLGREN, Va.—Navy technology and business professionals paused during an academic recognition ceremony to reflect and honor their Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) colleagues who were killed and injured at the Washington Navy Yard Sept. 16.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Commander Michael Smith read the names of the 12 victims and led the audience in observing a moment of silence.

“We are closely affiliated with the Navy Yard,” said Smith at the command’s annual Academic Recognition Ceremony held in the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus Sept. 17. He asked everyone to keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers, noting that Dahlgren employees often travel to the location of the shooting on command business.

Continuing with the ceremony, Smith and NSWCDD Acting Technical Director Stuart Koch honored 132 NSWCDD awardees for their academic and professional achievements.

“Today we are recognizing some very special men and women within our workforce who have taken on the challenge of balancing work and home with school and have succeeded in earning certifications or degrees – all the while continuing critical support to the Navy,” said Smith. “We also recognize their families who shared in this sacrifice. Taking classes means long hours and an interruption of daily routines. No doubt, there were days when dinners were late or kids’ ball games were missed. A special “thank you” to all the family members and friends, for you are part of today's success.”

The ceremony, marking the event’s 17th consecutive year, recognized scientists, engineers and business and human resource leaders who completed professional certifications or academic milestones covering the spectrum of associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

“We are indeed proud of our employees’ accomplishments,” said Smith. “With their goals met, they will be better equipped to meet the scientific, technological and management challenges ahead. They assure us that our legacy of innovators and problem solvers will continue.”

In addition to core engineering disciplines – mechanical, electrical and systems engineering – this year’s graduates earned degrees in computer science, applied physics, material science, microbiology and infectious disease as well as information assurance, engineering management, business administration and public administration.

“Earning these credentials enhances knowledge that can be directly applied on the job – and is vital to continuing our mission readiness,” said Koch, telling the audience that NSWCDD employees continued to leverage the development opportunities available to them in spite of furloughs, budget concerns and other pressures.

In all, 96 employees earned degrees from academic institutions while 36 received technical or business specialty certificates. In addition to the nine doctoral degrees, employees were specifically recognized for 48 master’s degrees, 37 baccalaureate degrees, and two associate’s degrees. Honored employees included eight academic fellows, 11 professional or academic certifications, 17 information assurance certifications and one Security Professional Education Development Certification.

NSWCDD employees received nine doctorates over the past year compared to previous years when the number of doctoral degrees was typically two to five.

This year, a father and daughter graduation duo was honored for their academic achievements. The father was recognized for earning a master’s degree, while working full time. His daughter was recognized for earning her undergraduate degree at Virginia Commonwealth University as a member of Pathways, an NSWCDD student program.

Moreover, NSWCDD scientist Ryan Mackie, a graduate degree honoree, received George Mason University’s Impact Award. The George Mason College of Science recognized Mackie as the graduate student who published peer-reviewed scientific research in a scientific journal with the highest impact factor in the 2012-13 academic year.

Maintaining a diverse and highly skilled workforce is critical to NSWCDD – the Navy’s leading warfare system architect and systems engineer, recognized as the technical leader in delivering innovative, affordable and effective solutions for the Navy, joint forces, and the nation.

“We are well aware of the importance of diversity, and that translates into the diversity of degrees as well,” said Koch.

In an economy where many employers are reducing or eliminating support for employees to pursue advanced education, NSWC Dahlgren Division remains committed to supporting education opportunities for the workforce to the greatest extent possible and welcomes the opportunity to recognize employees who have reached an academic milestone each September at this annual event.

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