NEWPORT, RI – Alex and Zach Pink, computer scientists in the Undersea Warfare Systems Division of the Naval Warfare Center (NUWC) in the Newport Division’s Undersea Warfare Systems (USW) Division, admits that they received some double effort during their time with the Newport Division, but that’s not exactly a new appearance for twins.
“There’s always the ‘wait, two of you?’ or ‘I think I’ve seen double,’ but NUWC has a lot of families working together,” says Zach. “I’ve seen couples, siblings, parents and children working together, but we seem to be the only identical twins.”
However, where the two have really turned their heads is with their work on combat system software.
At the 2021 Division Newport Annual Awards, Alex and Zach received the Outstanding Technology Transfer Innovation Award, along with team members Tim Donahue, Natasha Fedan and Sheldon Santos, for the Built-in Logic Engine for their autonomous combat vehicle (VPLE). This novel technology automates the process of notifying Sailors about weapon presets from being transferred to the fleet on the AN/BYG-1 Combat System.
“Part of where they fall short is the way they accommodate the different payloads that are set in advance and there are a number of competing projects,” says Alex. “In the end, we really proved that we had the easiest program to work with.”
For Alex and Zach, residents of Lakeville, Massachusetts, the earliest roots of this project go back to when they were at Apponequet Area High School in Lakeville and were deciding where to go to college. Alex recalls that there was an “unusual number of twins” in their high school, but they always seemed to be the closest of pairs.
“From what I can tell, we are definitely the closest or have the most similar thoughts,” says Alex.
“Learning and working together means a lot to us,” added Zach. “We both agree on the economic approach of going to public school and working while working to pay off the loans. So the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth worked for both of us.”
From the very beginning at UMass-Dartmouth, the twins had to make a decision. They were toying with the idea of majoring in writing or history, but their love of technology and video games took them in another direction.
“There was something challenging about computer science that drew us to it,” says Zach. “In the end, we chose to challenge ourselves a little more with the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field.”
In 2015-16, their senior year of college, they were connected with Newport Division scientists as part of the Combat Systems Division’s funding for high-profile capstone projects, made possible by the Agreement Education Partnership (EPA), aimed at developing a new method for pre-installing torpedoes.
“When we were working on the student project, Alex definitely acted more as the lead developer while I acted more as the lead on the project,” says Zach. “We had other people on the team, but he was more interested in the organizing side of the tasks and I was more of an artistic sense in terms of creating assets and things that would work on the project. Alex is definitely the type to take it all and put it together.
It worked so well that just a month after graduation, the Pinks were hired to work full-time on the endeavor at Division Newport. Although they had several other opportunities, they ultimately chose to work at Division Newport.
“We flirted with some private sector jobs before coming here because NUWC has a bit more appeal,” says Zach. “Politics and news become a little more interesting to watch. You feel like what you do has a stake in it.
As it turns out, this car preset approach is really unique. The software is currently in the patent process thanks in part to Division Newport’s “Shark Tank” event held in March 2022.
“We were stuck if it was really a novel, patentable idea, and they helped us come up with a justification,” says Zach.
“We talked about it and then ‘Shark Tank’ came along. We thought it was the perfect opportunity,” added Alex. “The guidance from there is certainly helpful and ensures that it can be implemented through working with a panel of experts.”
While the two still collaborate on VPLE when something needs to be revisited, they’ve largely moved on to different projects. Alex is working on training software for the Technical Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TTWCS), while Zach is working with the Newport Division’s USW Weapons, Vehicles and Defense Systems Department to develop a new type of torpedo software.
“However, when we have the opportunity to work together, we are very good at dividing and conquering,” says Zach. “It works quite naturally.”
When they weren’t developing advanced software for their submarine combat systems, the brothers enjoyed trail running and hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter.
“Video games will always be there,” Alex said. “Today we call it research.”
NUWC Newport is the oldest war center in the country, dating back to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Captain Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains the large detachments at West Palm Beach, Florida and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher’s Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.
Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, trained, educated and skilled workforce. We are constantly looking for talented engineers, scientists and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics, and other supporting professionals eager to be at the forefront of research and grow under the sea. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this website- https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NUWC-Newport/Career-Opportunities/ and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC- Newport and on Facebook @ NUWCNewport.
|Date Submitted:||09.11.2022 15:44|
|Location:||NEW PORT, RI, USA|
|Home:||LAKEVILLE, MA, USA|
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