Norman Kowalski is a technical program manager at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport. He was recently selected as the winner of the 2013 Copernicus Award, a recognition sponsored by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.
The Copernicus Award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of professionals in the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence information systems ad information technology fields in the naval services.
Kowalski, who works in the Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department, talked to Providence Business News about his work on the Submarine Local Area Network and winning this year’s Copernicus Award.
PBN: Can you tell us a little bit about the Copernicus Award?
KOWALSKI: The Copernicus award was established in 1997 and is awarded by the U.S. Naval Institute and Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). The Copernicus award honors specific, demonstrable contribution(s) to the advancement of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I), information systems, or information warfare. Recipients are selected based on their sustained superior performance in a C4I/IT-related job. The name for the award came from the Copernicus Architecture used as the blueprint for the future C4I structure of the Navy.
PBN: How does it feel to be recognized nationally?
KOWALSKI: While it is gratifying to receive this individual award, it is really the result of the hard work and technical skills of the SubLAN program team. Their successful efforts are the real basis for the award, and not my own at all. Team work, dedication, cooperation, and engineering skills make SubLAN the success that it is.
PBN: The Submarine Local Area Network program sounds very interesting, what’s it like to work on?
KOWALSKI: The SubLAN program is an interesting and demanding production oriented program. Some programs dedicate people to certain jobs and they work them exclusively, which can be boring. In the SubLAN program, people have the opportunity to move around and learn and be challenged in different areas. The program activity areas include all aspects of engineering including requirements gathering, development, systems engineering, testing, and installations. Installations include travel to ports all over the world.
PBN: What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
KOWALSKI: Our team is very adaptive, thorough, and professional. I am very lucky to have such a great team. I also get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that the work that the SubLAN team does, has resulted in our product being installed on almost every submarine in the fleet. Sometimes people work on parts of a program, then move onto other programs and do not see or know how their part of the program has impacted the submarine fleet. The SubLAN program starts at requirements and goes through in service support cycles about every 3-5 years, so we get to see our product n use.
PBN: What advice do you have to students who are looking to enter technology fields?
KOWALSKI: It is exciting, interesting, challenging and rewarding. Getting through the schooling can be tough but it is worth it. Once you have mastered the technology and engineering world, you can easily move into less technically challenging fields. Highly recommended.