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Aug 14, 2023

NAWCWD Innovation Awards highlight thinking differently

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division recognized four individuals and two teams for their innovative spirit and outstanding contributions to the command and warfighting efforts with 2022 NAWCWD Innovation Awards during a ceremony Aug. 10, 2023 in China Lake, California.

Rear Adm. Keith Hash, NAWCWD commander, gave opening remarks, highlighting the need to innovate in order to get real about our nation’s warfighting challenges and get better at meeting them in a world of great power competition and conflict.

“We must self-assess, self-correct, and just think differently about the world around us, and then ingrain that learning into our everyday lives,” he said. It forces us to think differently” about how we deliver on cost, schedule, and performance, and that’s the name of the innovation game.

“We need to innovate in all areas – collaboration and partnerships, business, technology – if we’re going to stay ahead. If we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, we’re going to deliver amazing capabilities – whenever they come. We don’t have the time to wait.”

Dan Carreño, NAWCWD’s executive director, challenged the teams to “continue to find the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the shining moments in your work each and every day” as they continue to find innovative warfighting solutions.

“We’ve got the best people. I say that all the time,” he added. “This work can get mundane in the day-to-day. All work can. But what you do here every day is important. It’s what’s going to continue to bring rapid capability advancement to the fleet. It’s not always flashy, but it is always important.”

Honorees were recognized in five innovation categories: Leadership, Catalyst, Technology, Business, and Inception.

The Innovation Leadership Award recognizes NAWCWD leaders who inspire innovation within their organization or team by creating an environment that fosters innovation, removes unnecessary barriers, empowers others, embraces appropriate risk and demonstrates a commitment to ongoing innovation. David Turner, release manager for software configuration set H16 for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Integrated Product Team, is the 2022 recipient. 

NAWCWD Innovation Catalyst Award winners make a significant impact to an organization by inspiring others to innovate or by directly supporting the innovative work of others. The 2022 recipient is Brian Hays, who demonstrated “outstanding capability to integrate legacy and emerging technologies into useful real-world applications that bring enhanced lethality to the warfighter.” 

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 2022 honors went to one team and one individual.

The Maritime Lethality Analysis Toolset Development Team, comprised of Thomas Hatch-Aguilar, James Purkiss, Mohamed Rayyan, Bharg Shah, and Danny Florido, significantly advanced NAWCWD’s ability to support warfighter readiness, filling a gap in maritime lethality assessment and evaluation capabilities through physics-based modules that describe weapon damage effects and target damage responses.

The individual winner was Christian Robless, who was recognized for pioneering an analysis methodology for characterizing the complex stress state of pressurized filament-wound composite motor cases in support of missile failure investigations. 

Winners of the Innovation in Business Award use new approaches to improve performance, support decision making, provide meaningful insight to existing processes or change how NAWCWD is conducting business. This year’s winner was Rose Clark, who managed the command’s change from triannual to annual asset inventories. 

The Innovation Inception Award recognizes individual or team contributions that are cross-functional and potentially game changing because of a unique concept design. The Technical Data Package Life Cycle Management Team earned the 2022 award. The citation lauds the team’s unrivaled “originality; superior skills; steadfast dedication to quality, efficiency, and improvement; and commitment” to their customers. Team members are Logan Hunter, Annalyn Edulag, Kevin Evans, Megan Henderson, In Kyu Kim, Brian McGuire, Patrick Olcott, and Kerolos Shenouda.

Aug 1, 2023

Two NAWCWD teammates awarded WOC STEM Awards

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division teammates Autumn Leake and Brittany Scott will be recognized at the Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics conference award ceremony in October.

The WOC STEM Awards have been presented since 1995 together with Women of Color magazine.

Leake is being presented the 2023 Women of Color STEM Awards – Special Recognition award. This award honors those who have made accomplishments that distinguish them beyond their individual disciplines.

“I am honored to be recognized for my work in STEM. I am hopeful that it showcases my commitment to the advancement of STEM fields and the broader collective benefits of diversity and representation at all levels,” Leake said.

Leake is the Chief Engineer for the AIM-9x Sidewinder Technical Project Office, while also being the National Co-lead for the African American Pipelines Action Team. She drives organization change by ensuring the expansion of African Americans within the NAVAIR workforce. She also provides solutions to professional barriers that address root cause issues in the areas of recruitment, retention, career development, promotion and outreach from the African American Perspective.

“Working in a diverse environment fosters cultural competence among employees and leadership. The ability to interact effectively and respectfully with people from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures is what allows an organization to not only be successful, but remain competitive,” Leake said.  

Scott is the Foreign Military Sales product manager and Suite Integration lead for the Multi-spectral Defensive Electronic Warfare Systems Support Activity IPT. Being an engineer gives her career options.

“I enjoy the versatility that engineering brings. It not only allows me to be technical, I can also be managerial,” Scott said.

Scott is being awarded the 2023 Women of Color STEM Award in the Technology Rising Stars category. This award is for women with 21 years or fewer in the workforce who are creating the technology of the future.

“This award shows that hard work doesn’t go unrecognized. It should encourage women that even in a male-dominated field that our voices and work matter,” Scott said.  



Jul 19, 2023

Halpern relieves Bryla as NTWP commodore

Capt. David Halpern relieved Capt. Ryan Bryla as the commodore of Naval Test Wing Pacific during a change of command ceremony in Point Mugu, California, on July 14.

Bryla is retiring after 27 years of service.

“As we all know, service to our nation is not a singles match,” Bryla said, addressing the assembled crowd. “Without the support, mentorship and guidance from some great individuals, I would have never served for as long as I have. I appreciate the support over the years and I owe a debt of gratitude to each of you.”

In turning over command to Halpern, Bryla said “You are the right person at the right time to take the reins of Naval Test Wing Pacific and prepare the Navy for the future airwing.”

Halpern earned his commission in 2000 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. He was designated a Naval Flight Officer in 2002 and initially trained in the EA-6B Prowler. He was selected for the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Cooperative program, was designated a test naval flight officer and earned a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

Halpern’s career has included support to Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom’s Sentinel, and Inherent Resolve, and Freedom of Navigation operations throughout the South China Sea. He has conducted ground and flight test of the EA-18G Growler, F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-6B, and X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System. Halpern was also responsible for Operational Testing of the F-35C, F/A-18 E/F, EA-18G and the AV-8B.

Halpern addressed his new command with enthusiasm and an eye on – and over – the horizon.

“The future of test and evaluation hold immense promise,” he said, and I am “excited to work with a team of professionals who are dedicated to our mission: ensuring that our next-generation capabilities increase warfighter effectiveness on time and on budget.”

As the threat continues to evolve, so must the Navy’s response to it. And to do that, Halpern believes that NTWP will need to embrace technologies like modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the “cutting-edge capabilities we develop are ready for deployment and empower the warfighters with the tools they need to succeed in their mission,” Halpern said.

“As we embark on this journey together, I have complete faith in the talent and dedication of the men and women of Naval Test Wing Pacific. Each of you plays a vital role in our mission, and I am honored to serve alongside you.”


Jul 14, 2023

Peterson earns NMCS Award

Russell Peterson received the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in a ceremony July 12 in Point Mugu, California.

Peterson, the Advanced Targets Branch head, also served as the acting deputy program manager and contracting officer’s representative for the Sub-Sonic Aerial Target Increment Two.

His team was responsible for delivering the Navy’s first high-subsonic target to meet the need for fleet self-defense system validation testing and pre-deployment weapons certification against modern threats. Peterson was credited with overseeing all government program technical matters for the advanced target program, guided the program’s contractor, and worked with a broad group of external stakeholders to efficiently ensure the entire product effort produced a modern threat representative target. 

Peterson is also known as the Navy’s technical expert for complex engineering modifications to the BQM-34S, BQM-74, and the Air Force’s and Army’s BQM-167 and MQM-107 targets, and his citation praises his ability to “consistently demonstrate proficiency, keen insight, and excellent problem-solving abilities above and beyond your peers. When called upon to lead others in resolving complex issues, you have humbly risen to the occasion and succeeded in every endeavor.”

Rear Adm. Keith Hash, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division commander, noted that it’s often the quiet teams, the humble leaders that accomplish so much for the fleet.

“You have served our Navy and our warfighters tremendously,” Hash said. “Because of your team, we have a training tool for our ships who are going into harm’s way.”

In nominating Peterson for the award, Kevin Gross, Threat/Target Systems Department head, noted that in addition to being a technical expert, he is also an “engaged and motivational supervisor who developed a close-knit and highly effective team.”

That sentiment bore out in how Peterson chose to accept the accolades.

“I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of very talented, wonderful people over the years,” he said about why he believes he received the NMCS award. “That is why I will accept this award as a team award on behalf of all those who have worked so hard to make today happen. It’s for all of us.”