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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2022

NRL materials research engineer named 2022 Black Engineer of the Year

By Nicholas E. M. Pasquini, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

Brandice Weathers, Ph.D., materials research engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Chemistry Division will receive the Professional Achievement in Government Award at the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference, Feb. 17-19, 2022.
 
Prior to her current position, she was a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and studied localized corrosion of zirconium based amorphous alloys.  After completing her doctoral degree, Weathers joined NRL as a support contractor at NRL Key West where she focused on material performance in marine environments and cathodic protection design.  
 
The BEYA Professional Achievement in Government Award recognizes a highly experienced, mid-career STEM professional who has made significant discoveries, important advances in their chosen STEM career path, and is acknowledged as a leader of large STEM initiatives.
 
“I am excited to receive the BEYA award and honored that my contributions to the research efforts of NRL’s Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering are valued and were deemed worthy of nomination,” Weathers said.
 
Since beginning her career with NRL, Weathers’ research focus has centered on cathodic protection design for submarines.
 
“In her 12 years of government service Dr. Weathers has established herself as an important resource for corrosion control of the U.S. Navy Fleet, making important contributions in both technical innovation and in the design of current and future U.S. Navy ships,” said John Russell, Ph.D., NRL Chemistry Division superintendent.  “In particular, she showed significant leadership in the development of a new design manual for corrosion control that will impact Navy ship design for decades to come.”
 
Weathers became interested in research focused on submarines after supporting a hull potential survey of a moor training ship at the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) at Joint Base Charleston.  It was her first time seeing a submarine and she said it was an awesome experience.
 
The NPTU is a technical school operated by the U.S. Navy to train enlisted sailors, officers, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory civilians and Bettis Atomic Laboratory civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance of surface ships and submarines in the U.S. nuclear Navy.
 
A pivotal career moment was Weathers’ first shipyard visit, where she was able to go aboard the USS OAK HILL (LSD-51) and USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD-17) to perform corrosion inspections. Weathers now coordinates inspections on VIRGINIA Class Submarines (SSN-774).
 
“The corrosion control and prevention work that I support in the Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering at NRL develops innovative methods to mitigate environmental effects on marine materials and systems in efforts to ensure the Fleet maintains operational endurance and mission capabilities,” Weathers said.
 
The most exciting recent project Weathers has been working on is the new Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) document - Ships Corrosion Control Design Practice Criteria (CCDPC) Manual (T9070-B1-DPC-010/630-1).  This document represents a 3-year effort to document and codify essential corrosion control design requirements and recommendations for the design of naval sea platforms. 
 
“Based on decades of research and design knowledge, the first-of-its-kind corrosion control document provides design guidance and requirements information that are both navigable and actionable,” said Ted Lemieux, NRL Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering director.  “This would not have happened without Dr. Weathers’ dedication and service to our nation.”
 
As a NAVSEA Design Practice Criteria it will be enacted in future ship design and construction programs and be contractually binding on ship designers and builders. 
 
“What I like best about working at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the opportunity to conduct research that directly impacts the Fleet,” Weathers said.

The Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering (CCSE) conducts broad scientific and engineering programs to understand and reduce the effects of the marine environment on naval systems. Within the CCSE, the Corrosion and Marine Engineering Section conducts basic and applied research to synthesize and produce advanced, multi-functional marine coatings technology for all naval environments including immersion, alternate immersion and atmospheric exposures typical of Navy and Marine Corps platforms. To address corrosion and marine fouling challenges, a Marine Corrosion Facility is located in Key West, Florida. This laboratory resides in an unparalleled site for natural seawater exposure testing and marine related materials evaluation.


About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
 
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or nrlpao@nrl.navy.mil.

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