NEWS | March 30, 2016

Naval Research Laboratory Hosts White House National Lab Day

By Daniel Parry

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists and researchers were on-hand, Tuesday, March 8, to support the White House initiated 'National Week at the Labs,' established to inspire young people's interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

On February 29, 2016, the White House launched the week-long event in conjunction with the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) and My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiatives supporting communities, universities and federal laboratories by connecting young people with authentic, hands-on interactive STEM and computer science events across the country and builds on efforts throughout the administration to increase student exposure to STEM and entrepreneurship.

For one week, between February and March, more than 50 national labs from across the federal system in more than 20 states open their facilities to youth from nearby communities. Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories across 22 states working on military programs and humanitarian efforts are a critical component of the DoD Research and Engineering Enterprise, providing science, technology and engineering that gives our service women and men a warfighting edge while keeping them and our homeland safe.

Local students from Ballou High School, Hart Middle School, and Leckie and Patterson Elementary Schools were welcomed to NRL to experience innovative research in the areas of intelligent autonomy, sensory and human/robot interaction systems, power and energy systems, and space science and satellite systems research.

Throughout its history, scientists and engineers at NRL have pioneered game-changing technologies that are today commonplace, like GPS, radar, synthetic oils and robotic spacecraft, said Dr. John Montgomery, Director of Research at NRL. We hope that your visit gives each of you a chance to experience some of the potential game changing technologies of tomorrow and a first-hand look into the exciting and challenging opportunities science and engineering have to offer.

At NRL's Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR), the students toured the facility's unique simulated environments, which include a desert complete with rock formations, a fully grown tropical rain forest, a shallow water [littoral] environment for testing of underwater autonomous systems, and a large high-bay where NRL researchers demonstrated research in unmanned aerial systems, cutting edge power and battery technology, and human/robot interaction systems.

The students also toured the satellite fabrication and test facilities of the Naval Center for Space Technology. NRL has designed, built, and tested/launched more than 100 satellites over its long history. The tour showcased both its historical achievements in space as well as its newer facilities, notably the Space Robotics Lab, where students got an inside view of what it takes to build a successful satellite and cutting edge technology for extending the capabilities of unmanned space systems.

Young students today are the potential pioneers, explorers and scientists of the future, said CAPT. Mark Bruington, Commanding Officer, NRL. We like them to think of this as their lab, their future capability to pursue and fuel those ambitions.

The Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.