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CHIPS Articles: Carderock calling on leaders in Navy data initiative

Carderock calling on leaders in Navy data initiative
By Daniel Daglis, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division - October 12, 2017
West Bethesda, MD - Trisha Shields is standing up a Data Science/Analytics Competency and Community of Practice for Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in West Bethesda, Maryland, at the request of former Technical Director Dr. Tim Arcano and Deputy Technical Director Larry Tarasek. The goal is to establish a fundamental capability and resource for the workforce to stay in step with current techniques and best practices, as well as help network across codes and Warfare Centers.

“We are looking for people who are interested; think they’re doing data science and data analytics; want to be doing data science and data analytics; or are generally curious to reach out and help build this community of practice here at Carderock,” Shields said.

In her current position with the Sea-Based Aviation and Aeromechanics Branch (Code 882), Shields is the lead of the data analysis team that provides support to a number of sponsors for operational, maintenance and safety-of-flight analysis of Navy aircraft fleets.

One of the hottest topics in data analytics is big data. Big data is extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations between objects, people and behaviors. With the rapid advancements that have been made in technology and computer hardware in just the past decade, big data has become a very efficient, cost-effective way to model information and is a tool that scientists and engineers working to improve the Navy’s fleet should be utilizing.

“While data science and analytics requires a certain degree of competency and skill, it is not something that you have to be an expert mathematician or statistician to understand or utilize,” Shields said. “There are probably pockets of people who are already explicitly thinking about it, and there is a good percentage of the population who are probably implicitly thinking about it. Maybe it’s driving how they’re approaching problems, but they don’t know how to put the specific name to it. It is for this reason we are putting together the community of practice for data science and analytics. We want to open a forum to have these discussions and encourage data science and analytics throughout everything we do at Carderock.”

Shields said the goal is to establish regular meetings for the big data community of practice and she is looking to have kick off meetings in October. All Carderock personnel interested in joining the big data community of practice or who would like to learn more are encouraged to contact her at Trisha Shields (tshields) on Fusion, or 301-227-4155.

Dr. Jonathan Tu (Code 7102), an engineer in the Ship Signatures Department, shared with Carderock engineers and scientists the importance of adopting big data methodologies in their work during a brown bag in June when he was visiting from the detachment in Bangor, Washington. Tu said data analytics is not only the definitive way to conduct research, but is playing a major role in how companies in a broad spectrum of industries are flourishing in the marketplace today.

Joining Shields is a team of Carderock engineers who have already taken steps to incorporate big data into the workplace.

Nathan Hagan (Code 654) is serving as the digital lead for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Center Executive Office. In this role he is coordinating pilot efforts across NAVSEA and building a community of practice across the Warfare Centers aimed at the disciplines of big data analytics, digital twin modeling and simulation, model-based systems engineering, and digital manufacturing and production, including additive manufacturing. This group is actively seeking interested subject-matter experts in these disciplines to work with NAVSEA and the Digital Warfare Office over a series of pilot programs aimed at demonstrating impacts from these methodologies. Interested parties can contact Hagan at or 301-227-1746.

Jonathan Hopkins (Code 6103) is standing up a Digital Design Lab, coordinating with leads in digital design within Carderock to implement a new lab space to experiment with future capabilities. Contact him at or 301-227-5008.

Dr. Craig Merrill’s (Code 833) area of focus is developing the Navy’s “digital twin.” Digital twin is an integration of data and physics-based models with machine-learning algorithms to enhance the Navy’s ability to understand and predict ship performance. He will apply some of the same tools used by big data analytics. Contact him at craig.f.merrill@ or 757-462-1665.

“As an engineer, when you’re analyzing data you have to make a lot of assumptions about what’s happening and you introduce a lot of empiricism because in the past we haven’t been able to analyze all of the data we can collect, so you had to simplify it and dumb it down,” Merrill said. “Using big data techniques, you don’t have to do that. You can take all of the data and gain another level of insight that you may never have had. You can apply mathematical techniques that have been in existence for 50 or 100 years, but we simply didn’t have the tools to do it and maybe gain new physical insights. Now through more advanced hardware and technology, data analysis has become easier than ever.”

Brian Fuller (Code 882) is working with Shields, Merrill and Tu on their efforts to advance the fields of analytics and big data at Carderock. Fuller is the curator of the Carderock Analytics Community Wiki ( NSWCCDDataAnalytics/) and can be reached at

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