Weapons and Systems Engineering
The Department can trace its lineage to the course of lectures on Naval Ordnance and Gunnery delivered by Lieutenant J. H. Ward at the Philadelphia Naval School (an academy for midshipmen that was a precursor of the Naval Academy) in the year 1844. In 1962, the Department of Engineering offered an elective course entitled "Systems Engineering", and, by then, the Weapons Department offered "Advanced Weapons Systems Engineering", for which the textbook was Systems Engineering. Today, the Department serves the Academy in the following two main roles.
Systems Engineering and Honors Major
Because of the idiosyncratic need to study naval weapon systems, one finds at the Naval Academy a major such as ours dedicated to automation, that is, the design and construction of systems or devices that work by themselves with little or no direct human control. Our weapon systems origins also explain why the major differs from those that have the same name at some institutions but deal with the management of engineering systems. The discipline builds on the Sense-Decide-Act concept which introduces sensor-feedback into, for example, a mechanical device making it an industrial robot. It is close to control engineering or mechatronics programs found at other universities. Many of the subjects we teach and research are traditionally included within the mechanical or electrical engineering departments elsewhere. The fundamental aspects of the discipline include sensors, actuators, feedback loops, computing, and computer programming which are taught in the sophomore and junior years. During senior year, a Systems major will concentrate in two application areas chosen from among the following five: estimation (getting quantitative information from raw data) and control, robotics (from industrial manipulators to unmanned flying craft), embedded computing (programming portable devices), signal processing (including images), and engineering management. An honors version of the major exists for exceptional students. You can find our more about our Program Educational Objectives here.
The same need for a midshipman's in-depth study also necessitates coverage of the breadth of naval weapon systems found in the fleet at present. Our responsibility is to educate the entire Brigade of Midshipmen on the scientific principles and engineering concepts of sonar, radar, guidance systems, and related military technologies. To teach such specialized topics, the Department relies on a military faculty that is comprised of both junior officers with fresh operational experience and Permanent Military Professors, a community of selected career naval officers who hold doctorates. Our corporate military faculty has authored the textbook Principles of Naval Weapons used by NROTC as well as foreign naval schools.
I invite you to take some time to learn about our military and career civilian faculty and their field of expertise, our course offerings, and some of our outstanding student projects. Please "like" us on Facebook to get more frequent updates.
Brad Bishop, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair