Educating and developing the next generation of world-class naval systems engineers is the goal of a new Naval Engineering Education Center (NEEC) to be led by the University of Michigan, with Virginia Tech serving as one of its partners.

The center was established through a $3.2 million contract award from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The contract includes five additional years of optional extensions that could add up to $49.9 million.

Virginia Tech is one of the 15 top colleges and universities from across the country that will make up the consortium, along with the American Society of Naval Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. The purpose of the NEEC will be to educate and develop world-class naval systems engineers for the Navy's civilian engineering, acquisition, and science workforce.

Alan Brown, professor of aerospace and ocean engineering at Virginia Tech, is co-director of the program for curriculum and education, and is directing the College of Engineering’s efforts in this program. Brown has a doctorate in marine engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he is a Fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

Brown will attend the kick-off event in Ann Arbor, Mich., on July 26.

"The NEEC will provide NAVSEA a pipeline of engineers in critical engineering career fields to address the challenges we face in building and sustaining the 21st century Navy," said Brian Persons, Naval Sea Systems Command executive director. "This is a huge step to help address Navy research and engineering development needs and challenges. It is the newest tool in NAVSEA's talent management strategy to develop, attract, and retain the broader more capable workforce."

A key part of the NEEC is using project-based education to provide actual naval engineering experience to students. NEEC project teams from the universities along with a NAVSEA engineer or scientist assigned to the team will tackle current and future technical challenges including the use of alterative energy sources, energy conservation, reduction in total ownership costs, use of unmanned vehicles, advanced ship design methods, and reduction in maintenance.

Through NAVSEA internships and at-sea opportunities on U.S. Navy ships, students will receive relevant hands-on naval engineering experience. Additionally, the NEEC universities will partner with the American Society of Naval Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers to develop a robust program for K-12 outreach to increase a student pipeline across the nation interested in pursuing education in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Other colleges and universities included in the NEEC consortium include: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Pennsylvania State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Webb Institute, Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, Old Dominion University, Tennessee State University, Stevens Institute of Technology, the University of New Orleans, the University of Iowa, the University of Texas-San Antonio, and the University of Washington. U.S. Navy Center for Innovation in Ship Design, located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division will support the NEEC.

Written by Stephanie N. Collins, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Office of Corporate Communications.