Naval Surface Warfare Center - Dahlgren Division(NSWCDD)

Laboratory Coordinator:

Melissa W. Smith
Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division
Dahlgren, Virginia

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD)'s mission is to deliver warfare systems to protect our nation and defeat our adversaries.  Research, development, test and evaluation, analysis, systems engineering, integration and certification of complex naval warfare systems is performed by NSWCDD’s scientists and engineers.  NSWCDD conducts basic research in all systems-related areas.  Specific areas of emphasis include physics, mathematics, laser and computer technology, software, mechanical, electrical and systems engineering, human/systems integration, and system safety.  As a premier naval scientific and engineering institution, Dahlgren technology is critical to new design concepts for current ships and for systems integration and interoperability for the U.S. Navy.

With locations in Dahlgren and Dam Neck, Virginia, NSWCDD is the largest federal R&D employer in the state of Virginia. With approximately 5,000 federal employees – over 80% of whom execute technical projects – NSWCDD has created a tradition and culture of innovation.

The 2023 Summer Faculty Research Program has identified various opportunities listed below for faculty to consider. There may be additional opportunities available under the NSWCDD Technical Capabilities at

Please Note: NSWCDD's Summer Faculty Research Program requires participants to be United States Citizens. 

Research Topics for FY23 for consideration: 

1)      Hypersonics 

Our nation faces fierce competition from our adversaries in the development of offensive hypersonic weapons and the weapon systems designed to defeat them. With our expertise in strategic weapons systems, the development and use of advanced gun systems, and tactical defensive missile systems, NSWCDD has significant hypersonic weapons experience. The hypersonic weaponry thrust will build on, foster, and develop this nascent capability into a sustained hypersonic technologies workforce. 

2)     Software Engineering

Software engineering practices that support modern coding practices and rapid delivery of capability to the fleet by instituting four core areas: education and training, policy, collaboration, and infrastructure. This includes software factory capabilities using common processes and tools to improve our cycle time, allowing us to explore new software architectures quickly and to adapt rapidly to a changing software ecosystem. We will reduce delivery times to the fleet by working with the certification community to automate all certification processes. NSWCDD will employ test-driven design and continuous integration/continuous deployment within software factories to ensure high-quality products are delivered to our customers.

3)     Quantum Computing and Sensing

Quantum sensing and quantum computing are critical to stay on the leading and cutting edge of critical technologies. This technology is quintessential to advancing research and development technologies. Research areas include: advanced sensor technology that vastly improves the accuracy of how we measure, navigate, study, explore, see, and interact with the world around us by sensing changes in motion, and electric and magnetic fields. Quantum computing extremely advantageous tasks where they could vastly outperform even our best supercomputers. Various research and collaboration across this area is critical.

4)    AI/ML

Peer and near-peer competitors across the world are aggressively pursuing autonomous warfare and the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) across the warfighting spectrum. Ultimately, our naval surface warfare combatants will need to operate in environments that will require the ability to defend against these autonomous systems, as well as employ offensive own-force systems. These capabilities and technologies will be game changers, as the speed of battle will soon exceed human-in-the-loop capabilities. The country that can quickly and successfully develop and integrate autonomous warfare technologies will have a decisive military advantage.

5)     Unmanned Systems and Autonomy

The research and fielding of unmanned technologies enable our systems to go farther and operate longer within various condicitions. Within these systems are elements that make them intelligent and critical components for the Warfighter. These systems are embedded with intelligent automation aspects and will assistance and be able to grow the battle space. Research across this technology is critically to ensure we are positioning ourselves for success. 

6)    Safety Systems

Warfighting systems are inherently hazardous given that they are generally designed to inflict serious or even lethal damage on an enemy. However, if not designed or employed properly, these same systems can cause significant damage or injury to our own forces or to non-combatant entities. Systems Safety Engineering is that aspect of the broader systems engineering process focusing on the identification and mitigation, or elimination, of potential hazards during system development, installation, maintenance, and operational utilization. Systems Safety Engineering employs a broad toolset of qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques aimed at methodically identifying potential mishaps, related hazards, associated controls, and risk. Expertize and research across systems safety area are encouraged. 

7)    Human Systems Integration

The Intelligent Automation group provides a holistic approach for digital transformation through collaborative convergence of technologies for rapid delivery to the Fleet. The selected faculty will conduct applied research and development for Human System Integration, including data analytics with virtual reality interface designs. Innovation in human factors, gestural interfaces, biomechanics, system safety, health hazards, personnel survivability, manpower, training, and habitability and enhanced affordability. Additionally, innovation in explainable Artificial Intelligence, specifically, capturing human important features into deep learning algorithms, and surrogate modeling. 

8)    Core R&D Technologies

Across the organization, we facilitate a broad and diverse research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) portfolio, with an emphasis on warfare systems development and integration. There are a variety of technologies encompassing our portfolio such as Cyber Security, Directed Energy and High Power Microwaves just to name a few.  We welcome all professors who are interested in technologies across our entire Research and Development portfolios.