Carderock, IIHR Sign Education Partnership

Originally Posted on: March 30th, 2018

A group of men smile at the camera shortly after signing an educational agreement.

Carderock Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Vandroff (left) signs an Education Partnership Agreement with the University of Iowa on Feb. 26, 2018. Seated next to Vandroff is Paul Shang, acting technical director for Carderock. Back row, from left are Dave Ghatt, a patent attorney in Carderock’s Office of Counsel; Thad Michael, a naval architect with Carderock’s Propulsors Branch; and John Barkyoumb, Carderock’s director of strategic relations.

IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering has a long history of successful collaboration with the U.S. Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center. That relationship entered a new and potentially very productive phase when University of Iowa officials signed an Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, on Feb. 26 at Carderock’s West Bethesda, Md., headquarters.

“The idea is to get students interested in hydrodynamics,” says IIHR alumnus Thad Michael, who is also an IIHR Advisory Board member. Michael, a naval architect with Carderock’s Propulsors Branch (Code 873) and the partnership program manager for the EPA, earned a doctorate in computational hydrodynamics at IIHR.

He said the partnership started with the naval hydrodynamic certificate program for undergraduates, created and developed by IIHR’s James Buchholz and Pablo Carrica. The certificate program provides students with a solid technical and leadership background that will help graduates thrive in civilian careers in navy science and technology positions, and in supporting industry.

Carrica and Buchholz, both faculty members in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, received a grant in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, for “Engaging Undergraduates and High School Students in Naval Science and Technology.” Carrica and Buchholz established the certificate program in naval hydrodynamics to provide students with formal education in the area along with recognition for their participation in the program. Sean Seelau was the first to graduate in 2017 with the certificate (

Sean Seelau, a senior mechanical engineering student, will be the first to graduate with a certificate in Naval Hydrodynamics at the UI.

Sean Seelau, a senior mechanical engineering student, will be the first to graduate with a certificate in Naval Hydrodynamics at the UI.

Michael says Carderock has had a longstanding partnership with IIHR and the University of Iowa. Michael and other Carderock employees have advised student projects at IIHR via Skype or teleconference. He said that Office of Naval Research funding for the partnership provided the school with a small tow tank that the students can operate themselves.

Carderock’s EPA programs, led by Director of Strategic Relations John Barkyoumb, are designed for public school systems and colleges that want to partner with the U.S. Navy to increase awareness for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career paths, potentially leading to a career in a U.S. Navy lab.

The University of Iowa’s EPA is one of 15 such agreements that Carderock has with schools and colleges. “There is a long history of hydrodynamics with Iowa,” Barkyoumb said. The EPA partnerships allow schools to tap into Carderock’s resources, including expertise in naval warfare science and technology; the base’s world-class facilities and equipment; and computer software and analytics.

Carderock has several employees who are University of Iowa graduates, working on projects such as the Very Large Test Apparatus being tested at Carderock’s Large Cavitation Channel in Memphis, Tenn.

Former employees have also gone on to teach at the University of Iowa, including Louis Landweber, who was once the head of the Hydrodynamics Division at Carderock. Long before Landweber passed away in 1998, he initiated Iowa’s major ship hydrodynamics research program, which continues under the leadership of Fred Stern.

“Whenever I talk to new employees at Carderock, I always impress upon them that all business is a people business, because it is people who accomplish missions of the organization,” Vandroff says. “Partnerships like this are a way to help us attract great people and maintain a top-notch workforce and tap into the expertise at these schools, too.”