NEWPORT – Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport engineer David Tonn said his idea to simplify a submarine antenna controller hit while he was mowing the lawn one weekend.
The resident of Charlestown then went inside and began sketching out his idea, so he wouldn’t forget.
“It really, truly does come when you least expect it,” said Tonn, a member of the Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, in a statement. “Sometimes they’re the result of a deliberate engineering process, but sometimes it’s just an idea that comes to you out of the blue that pans out.”
Tonn and Jean-Paul Nasser, an associate counselor NUWC Division Newport’s Office of Counsel, who is a resident of Fall River, won the 2018 Vice Adm. Harold G. Bowen Award for Patent Inventions. They were given the award recently, according to NUWC.
Both Tonn and Nasser received a plaque and a cash award.
Tonn’s idea has been used on 64 U.S. Navy submarines, saving the fleet more than $15 million. The invention, which reduces the complexity of the antenna controller unit, according to NUWC, saves about $230,000 per installation.
In all, Tonn has 28 patents in his nearly 25-year career at NUWC Division Newport.
Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.
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