Anh Nguyen, a computer engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, has been named a winner of the Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award for his work in developing the Navy’s most innovative, cost-saving training programs. The award honors individuals creating new paths for others in science, research, technology and development.
Nguyen, who holds a B.S. in computer systems engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has developed a reputation as a highly skilled computer engineer and researcher during his seven years at NUWC Newport. Most recently, Nguyen led a team of engineers to design and develop a “virtual schoolhouse” that allows users to access training content through virtual network computing.
PBN: Explain the feature you developed for NUWC and the need it has addressed.
NGUYEN: Navy sailors must undergo constant training to keep their technical skills from slipping behind. Much of this training could only be conducted in person, because sailors needed to practice hands-on with a multimillion dollar, high-fidelity training device, and only a handful of them exist. Due to the shrinking budget, the Navy is facing a critical shortage of effective submarine technicians who could perform the tasks.
My team and I created the Virtual Schoolhouse, a digital immersive virtual-training world which allows U.S. Navy sailors to undergo training using exact replicas of high-fidelity training devices – at a fraction of the cost. We were able to reduce the bandwidth needed for Virtual Schoolhouse to work and also make it from the East Coast to the West Coast to Hawaii. This innovative training capability was successfully engineered and validated in a laboratory environment using a Navy submarine training simulator. This year, we are scaling up the concept to a live operational network environment.
PBN: Do you think the work you’ve done will make virtual training more compelling for NUWC students?
NGUYEN: Virtual-world technology allows Navy sailors to access a 3-D, immersive training experience that incorporates traditional classroom and team-based trainer instruction. It allows student sailors to learn anywhere on the Navy network with full access to the Navy high-fidelity trainers. Once it is proven successful on a live operational network, the technology should be embraced by the Navy, since it allows our sailors to have hands-on practice with multimillion dollar high-fidelity training devices from any remote training location.
PBN: What types of innovation do you see yourself working on next?
NGUYEN: The military is beginning to adopt mobile technology into its toolkit, and I can see many potential innovations that we can use to leverage this technology for military applications to help our service members. In addition, with the increase in activities of cyber-warfare, information security is paramount in order to secure these mobile devices. •