Kim Belenger, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport lead system engineer for the surveillance towed array sensor system-expeditionary

STANDING OUT: Kim Belenger, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s lead system engineer for the surveillance towed array sensor system-expeditionary, says she had to clear hurdles as a woman in a male-dominated industry. 
COURTESY NAVAL UNDERSEA WARFARE CENTER DIVISION NEWPORT
STANDING OUT: Kim Belenger, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s lead system engineer for the surveillance towed array sensor system-expeditionary, says she had to clear hurdles as a woman in a male-dominated industry. 
COURTESY NAVAL UNDERSEA WARFARE CENTER DIVISION NEWPORT

PBN Leaders & Achievers 2023
Kim Belenger

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport
Lead system engineer for the surveillance towed array sensor system-expeditionary


Kim Belenger was working as a contractor in the 1990s when she was asked to perform testing on one of the computer programs that the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center was building.

There were many long hours and overnight shifts, but Belenger remembers how much fun the work was. She said talking with the fleet operators provided “real perspective” on the importance of the work, making sure everyone was prepared when the new systems were put into use.

“Our work truly contributed to the Navy’s mission success,” she said.

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After a few years, Belenger’s father suggested she consider working at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, where he was an engineer. Seeing an opportunity to build systems that could really make a difference, she joined NUWC.

Nearly 30 years later, Belenger serves as lead system engineer for the surveillance towed array sensor system-expeditionary. It provides passive detection of nuclear and diesel submarines and enables real-time reporting of surveillance information.

Belenger is currently working on projects spanning two departments in the areas of surface ship sonar systems, unmanned undersea vehicles, maritime surveillance and information technology. Additionally, she serves as the integration and software lead for the large displacement unmanned undersea vehicle, called “Snakehead,” providing technical leadership for the development, integration and testing of the software and system integration.

Belenger says the biggest hurdle she has faced in her career has been acceptance. Being the only woman in the room, she says, could at times be intimidating when they were discussing how things really happened aboard the ships and the decision-making process that they used.

However, being the sole woman did have its advantages, she said.

“Everyone knew your name and once I had established my credibility as someone with sound technical opinions, they would listen to my perspective,” Belenger said. “Through the years, the Navy has evolved and more women are now at the decision-making table, but those early lessons were invaluable in shaping my career and the path that I have followed.”

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