NAWCWD cuts ribbon on first laboratory earthquake recovery project
Three years ago, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Officer in Charge of Construction China Lake broke ground on a new laboratory, part of a plan to restore research, development, test and evaluation capabilities at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake after two major earthquakes rocked the area in July 2019.
On Oct. 24, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division cut the ribbon on the resulting $135 million facility, the Dr. Marguerite “Peggy” Rogers Laboratory.
Curtis Davis, Earthquake IPT and OICC program director, noted that the new 114,000 sq. ft. laboratory will house cutting-edge laboratories, conference rooms, offices, and administrative spaces that will serve as “the heartbeat of innovation for over 500 professionals.”
“We've provided NAWCWD with a cutting-edge laboratory that will drive innovation, support our national security, and propel us into a future of endless possibilities,” he said.
Rear Adm. Keith Hash, NAWCWD commander, stressed the significance of the laboratory’s opening.
“This ribbon cutting is a huge milestone in NAWCWD’s road to recovery – our first major research, development, test and evaluation facility to open since this long earthquake recovery journey began more than four years ago,” he said.
“It is fitting that this is the first lab that we’re opening,” Hash continued. “The lab’s namesake – Dr. Marguerite ‘Peggy’ Rogers – was many things, but one word that comes up time and again, reading through China Lake’s history and talking with those who knew her, is ‘Trailblazer.’”
Rogers, a physicist who became China Lake’s first woman technical department head and laboratory director, oversaw the development of some of the command’s most important weapons, including Snakeye and Rockeye. She led the first Weapons Systems Support Activity mission development and cofounded and served on the tri-service Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Munitions Effectiveness.
Rogers passed away in 1989, but three generations of family were on hand to celebrate their matriarch’s namesake laboratory opening. Rogers’ eldest son, Alexander, spoke during the ceremony, honoring his mother’s technical and personal legacy as the “First Lady of China Lake.”
“[She displayed] an insistence on technical honesty and competence … and she had no patience for less than careful work,” he said. “She was also fond of reminding people that ‘those young folks on the ships and airplanes are our children, and we owe it to them to provide the best equipment we can.’”
That dedication to the fleet – the men and women who actually use the products she developed – carries through to today’s NAWCWD, as does the civilian-military partnerships she insisted on during her weapons development work, Hash said, noting that the ceremony is an opportunity to join “in celebrating the physicist, teacher, and leader we grew to depend on as we built the RDT&E powerhouse that is NAWCWD.”