DAHLGREN, Va. – Teamwork, and collaboration with others for a common end goal isn’t a new or novel idea. Imagine a puzzle-like piece of that puzzle, each team member is unique, bringing his or her specialized expertise to the table. Collaboration brings new insight for challenging projects and can pull team members out of their comfort zones by meeting and working with new people that they may not have worked with in the past.
Personnel from Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) are often paired with team members in other departments and find themselves working alongside employees from other surface warfare centers. While the collaboration efforts may run into problems (like working across time zones or coordinating virtual meetings), members of the NSWCDD workforce rise to the challenge.
NSWCDD Senior Force Analyst Lorilee Geisweidt experienced both the benefits and struggles while working with the Force Level Analysis Working Group. The team was made up of employees from NSWCDD, NSWC Carderock Division, and NUWC Newport Division.
“We have a really cohesive team. We each have different specialties,” explained Geisweidt. Each warfare center had a different focus for the project – from integrated air and missile defense and surface warfare to undersea warfare to force operations.
Similarly, NSWCDD Hispanic Employment Program Manager and Leadership Coordinator for the Integrated Combat Systems Department Eunice Mercado-Rodriguez and the Hispanic Heritage Observance Committee thrived during their collective efforts. The committee was founded when a maximum telework status was instituted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the committee are based across the country in Keyport, Newport, Carderock, Corona, Port Hueneme, Dahlgren, and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) headquarters.
“It is a very big team. We are still collaborating this year,” said Mercado-Rodriguez. “The strength of our team is that we are very aligned with what we’re passionate and excited about… I made connections that I
would never have expected. You really get to work with people. We’re all human and we all want the same thing.”
The committee had their work cut out – to plan and execute the first-ever enterprise-wide Hispanic Heritage Observation event – all while learning Microsoft Teams as work shifted virtually.
“The beauty of the team is we all have our strengths and we flourished in that,” Mercado-Rodriguez added.
Around the same time that the Hispanic Heritage Observance Committee was formed, the Information Technology Infrastructure Plan team was created. The team was a collaborative effort between NSWCDD and Naval Surface Warfare Centers Newport, Carderock, Port Hueneme, Corona, and Crane Divisions.
“I find it invigorating because you get to meet people from other warfare centers that have a slightly different focus, based on their technical competencies. When you get all those people working together, you get different ideas. You’re all working toward a common goal,” explained Laura Martin, NSWCDD scientist.
“Those different perspectives bring different solutions to light because everybody is looking at things through different angles and lenses. When you have more solutions in the mix, there is potential for a better outcome.”
Megan Fraider, an engineer who works on the Dahlgren Collateral Damage Estimate team, agrees. “[Our team] is a working group. It’s a collaboration between all of the commands.” Dahlgren’s Collateral Damage Estimate team has subject matter experts working on similar teams at other NAVSEA warfare centers. Their counterparts are also tasked with supporting the operational communities across multiple combatant commands.
NSWCDD’s partnerships with other surface warfare centers across NAVSEA cultivate a diverse environment, filled with individual perspectives and ideas.
“You expand your network of folks who you know, work with, and can have work interactions with in the future,” said NSWCDD Lead Engineer Douglas ‘Doug’ Plotner of his experiences with the Blast Assisting Munition team. “You learn other perspectives and things you didn’t understand about the problem.”
The Blast Assisting Munition team, the SmartData team, the Force Level Analysis Working Group team, the High Energy Laser Power, Energy and Thermal Management Systems team, the Other Ship Gun Ammunition Integrated Product team, the Hispanic Heritage Observance Committee and the Information Technology Infrastructure Plan team are among the teams from NSWCDD recognized with the John C. Mickey Award for Collaboration from NAVSEA. Dahlgren’s Collateral Damage Estimate Team received the Knowledge Sharing Award for their efforts in collaborating with the greater NAVSEA Collateral Damage Estimate Team.