Electrical engineer Rodney Santos is one of four employees of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center awarded with the Brazilian Tamandaré Medal during a recent ceremony at the Brazilian Naval Commission in Washington, D.C.
The medal honors Santos’ distinguished service as a member of the Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department of the NUWC, where he worked on weapon-systems certification and integration. The collaboration between Brazil and the U.S. formed in October 2007 following a foreign military sale for weapons and combat systems to improve the Brazilian Navy’s submarines and shore-based training facility.
Santos holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts.
PBN: Explain what your department at the NUWC does.
SANTOS: The Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department is the Navy lead for submarine combat control systems. It provides systems engineering for the U.S. Navy and our foreign navy partners. Submarine combat systems are responsible for launch and control of missiles and torpedoes on U.S. submarines and torpedoes on Australian and Brazilian submarines. NUWC Newport works in an integrated product team environment to better serve our Navy and allied navies throughout the world. I was fortunate to be a part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) team responsible for the test and evaluation of the current combat control system during its development, certification and installation.
PBN: How did you contribute to your team’s objectives?
SANTOS: The FMS team supported the Brazilian submarine while underway. As a test and evaluation engineer, I actively participated in the development, integration, modernization, testing and certification of the combat control systems onboard Brazilian submarines. I was part of a collaborative effort, which began in 2007 when the U.S. entered into a foreign military sales agreement with Brazil to improve the capabilities of its submarines. The FMS team was an important part of that effort, leading to the successful MK 48 Mod 6AT exercise torpedo firings from a Brazilian Navy submarine in 2009.
PBN: What is changing or evolving in the engineering field?
SANTOS: Although technology has advanced, the engineering field is still faced with the same challenges in developing complex systems while balancing cost savings. Cost, quality and schedule continue to be the driving forces. I have since moved to another department within NUWC, the Undersea Warfare Electro-magnetic Systems Department, which is responsible for submarine radar, communication, electronic warfare and periscopes. The products are different, [but] the challenges are the same.