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Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division’s (NSWC IHEODTD) Dr. Jesse Moran, research chemist; and Aaron O’Toole, mechanical engineer; received the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition), Dr. Delores M. Etter Award for Top Scientists and Engineers for 2013, during a ceremony held at the Pentagon, June 6.

NSWC IHEODTD - a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Enterprise - is a leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics and ordnance research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit, and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.

“We at the NSWC IHEODTD are thrilled with the announcement of our two Dr. Etter award winners. These national awards are highly competitive and Dr. Moran and Mr. O’Toole are deserving recipients of this prestigious honor. Their work developed more effective tools and techniques for our warfighters to use against emerging threats,” said NSWC IHEODTD Technical Director Ashley Johnson.

The award was named in honor of Dr. Delores M. Etter who previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. Etter initiated the award during her tenure in recognition of those who have reached superior technical achievements and promoted scientific and engineering excellence.

Moran was recognized as a top scientist for his characterization of improvised detonators used in Improvised Explosive Detonators (IEDs) and demonstrating responses to homemade explosives threats from Afghanistan. His unique knowledge of organic chemistry and explosives chemistry was key to addressing urgent problems in theater. Presented with a problem, Moran was instrumental in implementing a solution tied to test kits with little delay and no cost in direct support of our warfighters’ missions. He remains critically involved in developing tactics and methods to thwart the threat of implanted improvised explosive devices.

O’Toole was recognized as a top engineer for his work in the EOD robotics field, by developing a novel method for enhancing semi-autonomous tele-operation with a high degree of freedom, highly dexterous, dual-arm manipulators. His approach in using modular sensors and an octree data structure reduces computation time, and frees up the computer resources onboard the robot for other computing tasks. This system is designed specifically with future EOD robots in mind, which will possess manipulators that mimic human arm and hand movement.