Panama City Beach Chamber News
Navy Names Suiter as 2011 Top Scientist of the Year
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) scientist Dr. Harold R. Suiter has been named the 2011 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientist and Engineer of the Year Award recipient in a letter signed by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition on June 29, 2012.
Suiter, a native of Hillsboro, Ohio, is an optics expert in NSWC PCD’s Intelligent Sensing and Irregular Warfare Branch and was one of four award recipients from the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). His nomination package competed against 63 other Department of the Navy nominees, he will receive the award in a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. in Aug. 17, 2012. The other NAVSEA recipients were Dr. John A. Lawton (Dahlgren, Va.), Densified Propellant Team (Indian Head, Md.), and Glenn T. Donovan (Newport, R.I.).
“He earned the award for the development of image enhancement algorithms used with the U.S. Navy Common Neutralizer system’s video subsystem that substantially improved performance of the system in turbid waters,” said NSWC PCD Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Pratt, USN. “He has been instrumental in the continued development of a number of airborne and underwater imaging systems to provide advanced capability for the detection of targets in various environments. We are thrilled for Dr. Suiter to have earned this well deserved and prestigious distinction.”
Suiter has been employed at NSWC PCD for 28 years and holds a bachelor of science and doctorate in physics, both earned from Ohio State University. He said he was grateful when he learned he’d heard he was a named awardee. Suiter believes personally and professionally the award has significant meaning.
“I was surprised and grateful. Of course, this award is really for the Neutralizer team, of which I am only one person. Without the help of John Dudinsky, Dave Jennings, Paul Moser, and the people of Areté Niceville, this project would not have been possible,” said Suiter. “It is good to see a project go all the way through transition, and to be acknowledged for the part I played in it. Even better is the thought that it will make the warfighter's job easier.”
NSWC PCD’s Science, Technology, Analysis and Simulation Deputy Department Head Brenna Williams said Dr. Suiter’s scientific research has resulted in hardware and software that has dramatically improved at-sea imagery.
“Dr. Suiter's accomplishment will significantly increase the performance of the video subsystem by enabling the system to be employed with the existing sensing hardware while providing the operator the ability to acquire and identify their targets at significantly increased ranges,” said Williams. “The resulting capability will reduce risk to operators by reducing the time spent to reacquire and neutralize targets in turbid water environments.”
It was Suiter’s interest in astronomical imaging that allowed him to combine field-flattening techniques used by astronomers with other image enhancement tolls to develop a set of image enhancement algorithms for use with the video subsystem employed on the mine neutralization system. Through research and experimentation, he determined the algorithms could substantially extend the distance at which objects in turbid water could be identified with low-cost cameras.
To date, Suiter has served as NSWC PCD’s chief scientist for programs such as the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis Advanced Technology Demonstration, the Joint Mine Detection Technology, and Airborne Littoral Reconnaissance. He holds several patents, been published in numerous technical journals, has authored a book, Star Testing Astronomical Telescopes (2nd Edition) and continues to explore applications of optical technologies in support of U.S. Navy technological requirements.