NAWCAD engineer earns prestigious STEM education, outreach award

Tim Miedzinksi, lead engineer with NAWCAD Patuxent River Prototyping, Instrumentation and Experimentation Department.

Tim Miedzinski, lead engineer with the NAWCAD Patuxent River Prototyping, Instrumentation and Experimentation Department, has won the STEM Education and Outreach Advocate of the Quarter award.

The award, which recognizes individuals from both the DoD civilian and active-duty military/Guard/Reserve is the most prestigious STEM award presented at the DoD level, enabling the Navy to recognize its STEM professionals’ uncommon efforts.

“Your exceptional development and mentoring of over 130 STEM students annually continues to spark interest and lay the groundwork to provide the Navy, the department, and the nation with the next generation of engineering talent,” wrote the DoD’s Dr. JihFen Lei, acting director of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology, in a letter to Miedzinski announcing his winning selection. “Many of your prior mentees have received positions within NAVAIR, which is the highest accomplishment for any mentor. You excel in developing hidden strengths in your students and have selflessly donated over 800 hours of personal time during the past year, which truly goes far beyond your lead mechanical engineer duties.”

Some of Miedzinski’s STEM education support and outreach initiatives included:

• Board member with growingSTEMS, a local nonprofit organization for students of all ages, focused on developing the next generation of problem solvers

• Lead design and strategy mentor for RoboBees, a student robotics team which develops technical acumen, leadership, and introduces many STEM disciplines, such as mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, software programming, and automation

• Trained students on machine operations and assembly techniques needed to develop and fabricate robots

• Self-authored a SolidWorks training guide with video lessons and in-person design challenges to build his students’ confidence and improve their design and modeling skills

• Continued to expose students to new manufacturing techniques including a new CO2 laser cutter, providing them with experience in new emerging technology

• Under his leadership, over the past two years, Robobees has grown from 12 to more than 130 students across two states

• With normal activities on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, led student teams to develop, test and iterate face shield prototypes to protect healthcare professionals and delivered the shields to Maryland facilities

• Another team of students developed and implemented procedures using skills learned in the RoboBees program to repair and return N95 respirators to local hospitals for reuse

• Identified the need for intubation boxes at local hospitals and undertook the effort to design and develop prototyope boxes to help overcome the shortage

“Mr. Miedzinski’s efforts with STEM education and outreach initiatives are worthy of this honor because of the impact he made on the community by going above and beyond his expected roles and responsibilities,” wrote Amy Markowich, executive director of NAWCAD’s DAiTA and Mission Systems Groups, in the nominating package. “He is a highly appreciated proponent of STEM whose contributions have significantly enhanced STEM education and outreach for the Prototyping, Instrumentation and Experimentation Department, and for NAWCAD.”