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CHIPS Articles: SSC Pacific: Fresh Talent, Groundbreaking Work, Innovative Labs

SSC Pacific: Fresh Talent, Groundbreaking Work, Innovative Labs
New robotics testing and integration site
By Katherine Connor, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific staff writer - January-March 2017
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) has experienced an unprecedented level of demand for its products and services in recent years. To meet that need, the Center’s ranks grew to 4,800 in fiscal year 2016, and several new office spaces and buildings were rolled out to accommodate this new talent and new workload.

San Diego facility additions include a new robotics testing and integration site, the Graphene Microfluidics Laboratory (GML) at the Center’s Hawaii location, a new lab for the End-to-End group that completes all command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) network architecture testing, and a collaboration-focused office renovation for the Outside Continental United States (OCONUS) Navy Enterprise Network (ONE-NET) and Base Level Information Infrastructure (BLII) teams.

To support the Navy and Department of Defense’s focus on autonomy, unmanned systems and human-machine teaming, a 7,600-square-foot building for robotics opened in October. The Unmanned Systems Integration, Test, and Experimentation (UxSITE) Facility provides a reconfigurable space with a high-bay to integrate, test and prototype technologies for unmanned systems.

The space can be blacked out for nighttime unmanned systems testing, and also accommodates office spaces.

On the materials side of innovation, a group of researchers at SSC Pacific’s Hawaii lab are studying graphene and the various ways it can be used to benefit warfighters. Potential applications range from wearable electronics to sensors capable of operating across a wide range of frequencies. This laboratory space was created for the group to enable future nanomaterial discoveries. The GML is equipped with electrical and optical measurement tools and lasers for device characterization and functionality testing of the fabricated graphene devices.

The revamped ONE-Net and BLII office space is designed to serve several purposes: increase the capacity from 50 to 80 personnel; create a more fluid, collaborative environment; and allow for more teleworking since the team travels to remote work sites regularly.

The project was completed in just four weeks, and personnel are already enjoying the sit-stand workstations, spaces for conversation and collaboration, and the mobile aspect of the space —employees don’t have assigned work spaces, but can claim whatever seat they’d like each day.

SSC Pacific’s Enterprise Engineering and Certification (E2C) group unveiled a new two-story building for end-to-end testing of C4I systems on all Navy ships, including the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) and Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). The space will accommodate testing of unclassified, classified and general service systems when it is fully furnished in a couple of months.

“What will be happening is that all the different system owners, all the different systems that make up the C4I and shipboard architecture are going to come here to develop and test their systems just as they’re configured out in the fleet to make sure they’re working before they go out to the fleet,” said Michael Gniady, E2C program manager.

Carmela Keeney, SSC Pacific executive director, said it’s no easy task to bring new labs like these to fruition. She noted that while these four spaces mark significant progress, more needs to be done to fill the need for space.

“With our significant growth over the last 10 years, we have a documented laboratory space deficit of more than 300,000 square feet,” Keeney said. “It’s extremely tough to compete with the operational Navy on the very limited supply of military construction funding available, so we’re doing everything in our power and within regulatory boundaries to keep our facilities up-to-date and reflective of the cutting-edge work we do here, but more needs to be done. It is a challenge, but as you can see from these new spaces, it’s one that we’re really focusing on.”

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