The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently named two engineers from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) recipients of its annual Tibbetts Award.

Anthony Brescia, a Patuxent River systems engineer, and Thomas Hill, former director of Lakehurst’s procurement group, both received the SBA award for contributions to exceptional execution of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs (SBIR/SBTT).

“I’m incredibly proud of what Tony and Thomas bring to our Navy,” said NAWCAD Commander, Rear Adm. John Lemmon. “The Tibbetts Award is a well-deserved way to recognize our people and our small business partnerships that advance the operational readiness and lethality of our warfighters.”

Brescia was recognized for his work on advanced unmanned technologies including Silver Fox, an aerial system deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and EMILY, a surface rescue and recovery vessel employed by first responders in and out of the DoD. Brescia is one of the earliest Navy managers for SBIR/STTR programs bringing warfighters capability via small business solutions for nearly 40 years.

“I am humbled to receive this award but it has been a team effort since the beginning,” said Brescia. “I am proud of the team’s dedication and success in delivering capabilities to our national defense, and opportunities for innovative and economic growth.”

Hill led a team that developed simplified solutions that made contracting with small businesses faster and easier. His efforts increased contract awards by 26% in two years while reducing cycle time. Recently, Hill and his team executed 79 fully funded contracts in less than a month. Hill is a champion for using existing authorities to support rapid procurement on small business contracts.

“Sometimes it takes 21 years to be an overnight success,” said Hill. “Acquisition is a team sport and requires all participants working together to be productive and efficient — it was our specialists who made our program a success.”

The SBA’s Tibbetts Awards highlight the next generation of competitive creators helping amplify the DoD, economy, and rising tech entrepreneurs, especially in underrepresented communities.

“For nearly four decades, the SBIR and STTR programs have been assisting small businesses with launching ideas from conception to market,” said SBA Administrator, Jovita Carranza. “The companies and the technologies they create play a unique role in job creation, the building of communities, and addressing the nation’s most pressing challenges.”

NAWCAD advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation and warfighters. With sites in Patuxent River and St. Inigoes, Maryland, Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Orlando, Florida, the command is the Navy’s largest warfare center, conducting research, development, test, evaluation, and sustainment of naval platforms and technologies.