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Outstanding: Navy reservist on the cutting edge of science and technology

Office of Naval Research

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IMAGE: On July 27, 2015, Lt. Cmdr. Tom McAndrew (right) received the Navy Reserve's 2014 Outstanding Junior Officer of the Year award from Col. James R. Sweeney (Ret.) of the Reserve... view more

Credit: Lt. Cmdr. Tom McAndrew

For contributions to groundbreaking technologies such as tactical cyber ranges and augmented-reality glasses, Lt. Cmdr. Tom McAndrew, a Reservist with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), this week received the Navy Reserve's 2014 Outstanding Junior Officer of the Year award, presented by the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, D.C.

As an ONR Reservist, McAndrew has supported numerous cyber and electronic warfare efforts, earning recognition as ONR's 2014 Reserve Science and Technology Officer of the Year. In March, he also was the first Reservist to win a Federal 100 Award for supporting research and development of innovative technologies to enable Sailors and Marines to operate more effectively in cyberspace.

McAndrew's efforts have contributed to more than a dozen special projects that have been funded and delivered--including unmanned air and ground vehicles and the first cyber training ranges designed specifically for tactical cyber training for the Marine Corps.

"The tactical cyber range was one of the most important projects that we delivered," said McAndrew. "Tactical cyber is warfare conducted out in the field, where you may not have an Internet connection, a stable power source or adequate bandwidth."

McAndrew's recognition comes during the centennial of the U.S. Navy Reserve, and is an example of the importance of ONR's Reserve Component (ONR-RC) in developing the Navy's science and technology (S&T). ONR-RC comprises approximately 190 Navy Reservists from 15 units nationwide--most of whom have earned advanced technical degrees in science and engineering disciplines and were once on active duty.

"Our Reservists offer a powerful combination of advanced degrees, prior active-duty experience in the fleet and successful civilian careers," said ONR-RC Director Capt. Mark Lokay. "Depending on their operational experience and technical background, ONR Reservists will almost certainly find a project where their expertise will benefit naval S&T research."

The Reservists act as liaisons to Sailors and Marines, communicating ONR's mission and messages. They also provide real-world perspective to ONR program managers and researchers on whether a technology will be practical or efficient for U.S. warfighters to use.

Reservists support ONR's mission in several other ways:

Conducting basic research and testing prototypes--Reservists regularly help test developing technologies like unmanned autonomous vehicles. They also maintain and operate the Navy's fire-suppression test ship, the ex-USS Shadwell, a World War II-era vessel that now serves as the Navy's platform to conduct firefighting research.

Developing prototype systems--Reservists have played key roles in projects like the Electromagnetic Railgun, which uses electricity instead of chemical propellants to launch projectiles; the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), a human-sized robot that could one day fight shipboard fires; and Navy Fuels, a Naval Research Laboratory-led effort to develop an on-ship system to generate fuel from seawater while underway.

Supporting fleet-wide events and exercises--These range from demonstrating ONR-sponsored technology at Fleet Week New York to supporting youth-oriented science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) functions.

Serving at ONR is unique because Reservists enjoy a great opportunity to have an impact on the future of naval warfare," said Lokay. "Game-changing capabilities result from scientific research, and the ONR-RC plays a vital role."

For McAndrew, the hard work is worth it when "you realize you're making real changes to the future of the Navy and Marine Corps."

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