Michaeli Helps Spearhead Growth of Naval Engineering at ODU
July 13, 2015
Jennifer Michaeli's vision is to bring to Old Dominion University a robust center of excellence for naval and marine engineering, and help create the next generation of future maritime engineers.
Michaeli's great-grandfather came to Hampton Roads from England to build ships. Her grandfather, father and many uncles and cousins had long careers working for Newport News Shipbuilding. At the root of their vocation was a love of the water, and of the craft of building a boat.
"What I heard in the words of my father, and other family members, was a tremendous pride and dedication in the profession of designing, building and maintaining ships," said Michaeli, Director of the Naval Engineering and Marine Systems Institute (NEMSI) only 12-months into the making in Old Dominion's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology.
"Not only designing vessels that are among the best in the world, but passing on that knowledge to the next generation of shipbuilders and designers."
Since arriving at Old Dominion University in 2012, after 15 years working as a civilian for the United States Navy and private industry, Michaeli has created the NEMSI and expanded the Batten College's research and curriculum focus towards naval engineering.
At the annual engineering Distinguished Honors Celebration, Michaeli outlined her vision for making NEMSI a signature part of multidisciplinary engineering education and outreach at Old Dominion.
Michaeli oversees the marine engineering curriculum, teaches courses in ship design and construction and is actively involved in funded Navy research, as well as other STEM initiatives designed to encourage students to pursue careers in naval engineering.
"The question we need to ask ourselves include 'How are we providing pathways to success for students in this setting?' " Michaeli said.
NEMSI acts not only as a focal point to connect the Navy and industry partners with high-quality research carried out by faculty, but also serves as a pipeline for engineering students, exposing them to different facets of marine engineering. This currently includes the Marine Dynamics Laboratory in the state-of-the-art Engineering Systems Building.
Students enrolled in naval engineering at Old Dominion are already getting national attention. At ASNE Day 2015, the annual meeting of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE), student poster and paper entries defeated competition from the University of Michigan, Penn State, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other top engineering schools.
Student researchers Dareni Farrar, Marie Ivanco, Jonathan Ricci, Alfred Hammett, Josh Mclin and Alexis Thompson won first place in the undergraduate poster competition for their entry "Analysis of Analytic Hierarchy Process for Early Stage Naval Acquisition."
Another team of Old Dominion student researchers - Dareni Farrar, Steven Trenor, Matthew Sander, Wenwen Xiao, Moodey Fahim, Jarrod Cartwright, and Alfred Hammett - finished third in the same competition for their research into design and integration of a laser weapon system for Navy ships. These are just two of the numerous research-centric, student projects that Michaeli and her NEMSI colleagues oversee.
In the graduate student research poster competition, ODU's Rebecca Hattery won for her poster "Vibration Energy Harvesting for Communication Devices."
At ASNE Day, Hammett also was elected chair of the student committee of ASNE for the upcoming year, and Old Dominion student Colin Harris was elected vice chair.
"The recognition of these students from naval engineering and marine industry leadership is well-deserved. There are truly excellent students in these programs," Michaeli said. All of NEMSI's students have been selected for summer internships at Navy labs or marine companies, such as Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding.
An important aspect of the work done at NEMSI is cutting-edge research in marine engineering. Michaeli said it's important that the research include as many stakeholders as possible, in and outside the Navy.
"Research and development can't be restricted to a small circle of colleges. It needs to include military partners and industry partners. We need to challenge ourselves and our students to address the challenges we face as a nation, what it means to be operationally effective in a combat setting, and be cost-effective in design, construction and maintainability. This takes critical, innovative thinking from many perspectives - working together," Michaeli said.
In June, Michaeli was one of 225 university researchers nationwide, and the only one from Old Dominion, to receive a total of $67.8 million in research instrumentation awards from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program supports the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment that augments current university capabilities or develops new capabilities to perform cutting-edge defense research and associated graduate student research training.
Michaeli's grant, from the Office of Naval Research is for a real-time, power-hardware-in-the-loop simulator for naval power systems. With this grant, Michaeli and her NEMSI collaborators Paul Moses, assistant professor of engineering technology; and Gene Hou, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will expand ODU's research and education focus in shipboard power systems for naval applications. This brings a unique capability to ODU and provides a real benefit to the Navy and the marine industry in areas of research, education, and professional development.
ODU offers minors in ship design and marine engineering, exposing undergraduate students to principles of the discipline. Freshmen entering Engineering Fundamentals Division do an underwater robotics unit to get a taste of what the industry has to offer.
Michaeli said early exposure for students to the idea of a career in the maritime industry is important if Old Dominion hopes to grow to serve the needs of the local and national marine engineering workforce.