The passion for automotive testing takes a shocking turn towards naval engineering for Shawn Schneider, a subject matter expert at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). From an early age, Schneider developed a love for the automobile while repairing four-wheeled vehicles and working on bicycles. His passion for automotive engineering grows every day.
Schneider began his college journey in his home state of South Carolina, attending Clemson University. While there, he studied automotive engineering and landed an exciting internship working on large vehicle projects for the US Marine Corps and medium tactical vehicle replacements in the Nevada desert. The projects he worked on sparked his interest in testing and instrumentation. After attending Virginia Tech graduate school, Schneider discovered how his skills could be used within the Department of Defense (DoD).
NSWCDD recruiters seek graduate students from across the country with skills like Schneider’s. With his experience in research on control systems and vibration testing, they contacted him and offered him a career that suited him perfectly. “It sparked my interest when that email dropped and I just took a chance on coming to see what the Navy was offering,” says Schneider. “Indeed, I was then sought out for exactly the kind of work I love to do.”
Schneider has covered a lot of ground in his 12 years at NSWCDD. As a senior physicist and environmental test instrumentation engineer within the Integrated Engagement Systems department, he performs physical dynamic testing of structures and oversees the technical aspects of vibration testing.
Through sustained leadership, the Navy’s test research revolution, massive skill and capability growth at Dahlgren, Schneider continues to make an impact on the NSWCDD. Schneider strives to “create state-of-the-art technology, bring all warfare centers together to their maximum capacity, and promote multi-degree-of-freedom (MDOF) agitation testing.” One of Schneider’s biggest successes at Dahlgren was testing the MDOF shaker, and he hopes to bring it to other warfare centers to improve the DoD as a whole and rewrite military standards with improved technology.
He especially enjoys the hands-on experience, where he shows up to work in dirty blue jeans, steel-toed boots, and sheets with grease under his fingernails and knuckles broken from turning keys all day. . Schneider considers the work he does at NSWCDD one of his passions. But when he’s not at work, Schneider enjoys spending time with his family outdoors. He’s always looking for the next adventure, whether it’s biking with friends or hunting in the mountains of Denver.
If Schneider has learned one thing as a father and an engineer, it’s to remember that you always have to start somewhere and to be successful, you have to overcome obstacles first. “Hands-on experience is invaluable and indispensable,” says Schneider. “It’s the best way to learn.”