History of the AEGIS Program at Dahlgren
By Tom Clare, Special Guest Writer
Our Early Strategies...Continued
We also built a data center at Dahlgren as a central library of sorts for all sorts of AEGIS reference materials, e.g., the AEGIS Weapon System’s specifications, test and evaluation plans.
We had videos as well as documents. Kathy Sawdy and, later, Alice Hopkins ran the data center, both very
enthusiastic and very competent. Their performance in that job led to one of the first demonstrations of our credibility with RADM Meyer. I recall we put a line item in one of our early budgets for the creation and operation of the data center. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars; big bucks back then, especially to an AEGIS Program Office staff who didn’t think we were for real yet. They, the staff working the budgets, wanted to zero our request for data center funding. I went directly to RADM Meyer, around his staff, and explained how important it was to our learning process. He personally approved these big bucks, much to the chagrin of his staff, so we were on the hook to come through and demonstrate his trust in us! The data center staff demonstrated a phenomenal capability to many visitors, including RADM Meyer and program office staff. They were impressed, and we pretty much had continuous funding for the data center. Again, another small item, but one that went a long way to building our future in the AEGIS Program because of the trust it engendered in the AEGIS Program Office leadership. That trust expanded into many areas in the future.
There was also the AEGIS Orientation Center, which developed as a location for new AEGIS employees and interested persons to rapidly familiarize themselves with AEGIS. Each individual was provided the means to create a self-serviced, self-managed program of training relevant to their job, whether that was in Command and Decision, Weapons Control System, AN/SPY-A radar, or Interface Simulator System. The Orientation Center also housed several video training packages, covering such areas as AEGIS computer programs USS Norton Sound (AVM 1) test data, combat system elements, and the Combat System Engineering Development Site. Deborah Rawlette served as the center’s director.
The AEGIS Data Center and the AEGIS Orientation Center combined with a DDG-X library in 1984 to form one AEGIS
Data Center, located in Building 1500.
Consistent with our strategy, we also sought out highly visible program office special assignments or projects, especially from RADM Meyer himself. One of the first of these was on the topic of circuit breakers in the AN/SPY-1A
radar system. It turned out that, upon suffering a shock such as might be felt during operations with the enemy, many of the circuit breakers in the radar systems would trip. This was obviously a big problem. I was assigned to address it during one of the early AEGIS Program reviews. I assigned Dick Frazer, one of our senior electrical engineers, this task. I cannot say enough about the job Frazer did on this: it was outstanding. And his work was very visible to both the program office and to RADM Meyer. Another bit of “concrete” poured in our foundation and credibility with the AEGIS Program.
About the Author
Thomas A. (Tom) Clare began his career at the then Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1970 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. While there he performed research and development in Aeroballistics and served in management positions at the branch, division, and department head levels, including as the first head of the AEGIS Program at the then Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC). In 1989 he was selected as Technical Director of NSWC, and during his tenure he successfully led the Center through three rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
In addition to his work at Dahlgren, he has been a key advisor and leader in the Navy and DOD scientific and technology community and served on various Navy and Marine Corps executive committees, with the focus of these activities on visions, strategic planning, systems engineering, programmatic and organizational strategies, and reorganization approaches and philosophies. In 1998 he retired from a position as an advisor to the DOD systems engineering community, addressing the need for greater systems engineering and management policies and practices across the services.
A version of this article was previously published as an NSWCDD blog in February of 2018. Reused with permission.