Science and Technology News

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NSWC PCD Employee Earns Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology Transfer

By By Jacqui L. Barker, Public Affairs Specialist, NSWC PCD Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- For offering a clearer vision for U.S. Navy divers, a Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) employee was named the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) 2012 Excellence in Technology Transfer award recipient, Jan. 23.

Dennis Gallagher, lead project engineer and inventor of the Advanced Diver's Mask-Mounted Display System in the NSWC PCD Underwater Systems Development and Acquisition branch, earned the award for his work on the Advanced Diver's Mask-Mounted Display System.

The display system was made available for commercial and military use in December 2011.

NSWCPCD initiated a technology partnership with Sound Metrics Corporation through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) agreement, and partially exclusive licensing agreement between NSWC PCD and Sound Metrics Corporation, based in Lake Forest Park, Wash.

Gallagher initiated the system's patent for which the government now owns. After the system was patented, the CRADA was reached then a license agreement and then the technology transitioned to production manufacturing.

Gallagher said the original idea for this mounted display system came from simply listening to the customer.

"The original idea for the diver mask mounted display came many years ago from a test with several underwater sonars and a very rudimentary underwater display monocle that was being used," Gallagher said. "After a test dive with the sonar and monocle, we were reviewing the sonar images the diver had recorded during the dive. When looking at the images on the computer the diver remarked, 'Man, if I could have seen the images with this resolution down underwater, I would have known what the items were.' That's when I knew we had to develop an underwater diver display equal in quality, color, and resolution to a computer laptop screen. It wasn't an easy task, but we did it."

NSWC PCD and FLC representative Edward Linsenmeyer and Underwater Systems Development and Acquisition Branch Head Karen Borel both agree that Gallagher's work to successfully transition the mask to Sound Metrics, who is now manufacturing the Navy design as a commercial product and is available to military and civilian divers, is nothing short of transformational. Linsenmeyer endorsed Borel's nomination of Gallagher for the 2012 FLC award.

"Until now, divers working in dark, murky waters haven't been able to effectively survey and assess their surroundings, but with the Advanced Diver's Mask-Mounted Display System, it's a new underwater world," Borel said. "The transformational flip-up, flip-down device is like an "underwater night vision" system that allows divers to see what they're doing; whether they're looking for mines, scanning for intruders, inspecting ship hulls, recovering a body, searching for evidence, or studying fish behavior."

Gallagher, a native of Phoenixville, Pa. who also calls Tallahassee, Fla., home, joined NSWC PCD after he graduated in 1984 from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. A diver himself, Gallagher brought his technical expertise and experience to conceptualize, deliver, and ultimately manage the successful transition of a mask's mounted system able to withstand depths of 300 feet, and quickly transition it for use.

"The 800 x 600 super video graphics array (SVGA) screen incorporates organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays that are color-balanced and contrast-matched, giving the diver an astonishingly clear and actionable view," Borel said. "The mask-mounted display system is a whole new ballgame when compared to anything previously available, offering higher contrast, brighter color, smaller size, lighter weight, larger eye relief, lower cost, and lower power consumption. In addition, a low-magnetic version will be available for use by Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers."

Federal technology transfers are the movements of technology, knowledge, facilities, or capabilities from one sector to another to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationwide. That transfer may occur between government entities or government and private sector. The results of these technology transfers can result in commercialization of new products in commerce, and perhaps even enhance laboratories or agency mission objectives.

"This technology transfer achieves the "grand slam" of technology transfers, also known as T2. U.S. Navy technology is embedded in a new commercial product, which has both military and non-military application, and the Navy can turn around and purchase that manufactured good economically," said Linsenmeyer. "Thanks to Gallagher's innovative thinking and perseverance, and the NSWCPCD team, the Advanced Diver's Mask-Mounted Display System has literally changed the outlook for divers-and for military mission readiness. With this groundbreaking technology, the future looks clear."

The FLC was organized in 1974 and Congress passed the Federal Technology Transfer Act in 1986, which officially chartered the FLCs. Today, the FLC is comprised of technology transfer professionals from more than 300 federal laboratories, their respective agencies, and affiliated organizations. Several mechanisms exist in which government technology may transfer to another sector, such as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, or CRADAs, collegiate interchanges, or technical assists.

Gallagher will accept the 2012 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) award during a ceremony at the FLC national meeting scheduled to be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Thursday, May 3, 2012.

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