NSWC Dahlgren Computer Scientist Recognized for Work in Iraq > Naval Sea Systems Command > Recorded News Module

NSWC Dahlgren Computer Scientist Recognized for Work in Iraq > Naval Sea Systems Command > Recorded News Module

One hundred and twenty-one – that’s the number of emails the average person receives every day, according to The Guardian. In truth, most of those sent to our personal email accounts end up in the junk mailbox without a second thought. This number drops when it comes to business emails. For Joe Gills, a computer scientist at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), it was an email that arrived in his inbox that changed his focus, allowing him to pursue new opportunities around the world.

“Through daily emails a few years ago I found out about this program run by NSWC Crane called MTRC, or the Mobile Technology Repair Complex. MTRC sets up workshops in combat and non-combat areas. -combat to work with special operations forces, providing field support for the manufacture and repair of these special [operations] teams,” Gills explained. “I’m a very mechanical-minded person. I like to work with my hands. I grew up on a farm, so I’ve done a lot of repair and fabrication type engineering work all my life.

When Gills applied to the MTRC program, his experience on the family farm helped him in his pursuit. “I went to school for math and computer science. When I applied for this program, I told them about my background and what I like to do outside of work. They determined that with the training they were providing, I would be able to do whatever was required for the job.

Once accepted into the program, the Longwood University graduate spent two months training NSWC Crane on different equipment, such as welders, drill presses, forges, sewing machines and 3D printers – all tools that Gills would use once abroad.

“While I was in Iraq, I fulfilled this role of engineer. It was myself and a contractor running the shop, working with six to 10 crews and supplying them with whatever engineering, fabrication or repair needs they needed,” Gills said. “I loved working with my hands and working outdoors, designing and designing projects.”

Gills spent six months with boots in the field in Iraq, qualifying him for unique recognition – the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terror. The medal can only be awarded to civilian employees who have served in an eligible combat area for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days since September 11, 2001 in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom . It recognizes the contributions and achievements of the civilian workforce that directly supports armed forces engaged in operations to counter terrorism in all its forms around the world.

“Throughout my time deployed, I felt like we were providing a much-needed capability to teams, filling in the gaps at every level,” Gills said. “One of the great things about this program that I think is extremely valuable is that it puts the people doing the work as close to the customer as possible.”

According to Gills, being close to the end user allowed him and his counterpart to talk with the customer and really understand the issues they were having.

“It allowed those of us working on the shop floor to create bespoke solutions to actually solve their problem. We went through this engineering and design process, engaging with them early and often and making sure that whatever we passed on to them would ultimately meet their needs,” Gills explained. “I try to do that in my job now, working on different projects. I am constantly thinking about what is really needed and trying to meet with the customer to make sure our product will solve their problem.