NSWC Crane Electro-Optics experts leverage 10 years of R&D to provide innovative solutions to the warfighter

March 19, 2020 – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) Electro-Optics experts have leveraged 10 years of research and development (R&D) to provide innovative solutions to the warfighter. The electro-optic scientists and engineers have been using Navy Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funding to get the best technology in the hands of servicemen and women at the speed of relevance.

The NISE program provides funding for Basic & Applied Research, Technology Transition, Workforce Development, and Laboratory Revitalization within Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories to grow internal technical capabilities of the workforce and build critical infrastructure.

Aaron Cole, an engineer at NSWC Crane, says there are several benefits to using NISE funding.

“NISE helps us create technology efficiently, where we can assure we provide sailors with new capabilities while they are still effective,” says Cole. “Technology is a rapidly changing juggernaut; there’s always a certain amount of risk and potential failure assumed when developing any new technology. NISE allows our engineers and scientists to engage with that risk from the beginning and at critical stages of technology development, which minimizes risk and maximizes opportunities by the time the capability is delivered.”

Cole says that since 2010, NISE R&D funding provides direct access to the end user: the warfighter.

“NISE has been our number one tool in reducing technological and programmatic risk and gives us the ability to customize technology to meet the warfighter’s needs,” says Cole. “NISE has given our team the playground to do both. As an R&D instrument, NISE gives us engineering opportunities to not only build, but also understand and or experience how it is operationally useful.”

Brant Ackerman, the Director of NISE Program at NSWC Crane, says NISE also serves as a way to develop Crane’s technical workforce.

“NISE creates an environment that brings in more researchers and grows our workforce,” says Ackerman. “Scientists and engineers working on NISE projects are working with state-of-the-art technologies and laboratories. NISE provides us an avenue to grow our workforce with top talent, so we can provide better solutions for the end-user.”

NISE has been instrumental in enabling key technology development for warfighters.

Working with warfighters and other STEM professionals, Cole developed the Underwater Command & Control System using NISE funding. The system is a communication device that gives warfighters the ability to use full motion video while underwater as well as navigation, just as a vehicle would use GPS.

“The real benefit of the system is when you’re under water, you are no longer isolated, and you can communicate in real time,” says Cole. “It gave us the freedom and latitude to go through the final development phases to patent the technology and get it ready for industry.”

Cole says with certain technologies, NISE serves as an enabler whereas other government processes may impede both rapid and critical development.

“When funded on merit, NISE serves as an excellent catapult for launching technologies over the valley of death,” says Cole. “There are currently other technologies moving through Electro-Optics via the NISE process and we think the future innovative transition of technology to warfighters is looking quite promising; stay tuned.”

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