How do you improve something as big and complex as an aircraft carrier? Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) has developed a program to give its engineers experiences to do just that.
Called “Engineer to Sea,” the program sends NNS employees to sea aboard Nimitz-class carriers to give them an opportunity to experience and observe the company-built ships in action. Their experiences inform and influence their design work when they return to the shipyard.
In June of this year, 10 engineers (along with two communications staffers, three subject matter experts and a videographer) walked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) in Norfolk, Va., for the latest Engineer to Sea experience. Among them were a design apprentice, a modeling and simulation engineer, a structural engineer, a nuclear engineer and a cost control analyst.
(The engineers get an introduction to the medical clinic on USS George H. W. Bush from the ship’s chief medical officer, Cmdr. Toone.)
The group toured the ship, from the fueling systems on the lowest deck (Deck 7) to the bridge on the highest (Deck 09). They listened as sailors talked about their jobs and the ship. They asked questions to learn more about the systems they help to design, all with the purpose of designing a better ship.