Athena West Waterfront 10 Roundup

By: LCDR Mark Blaszczyk

Welcome to the long awaited wrap-up for Athena West’s Waterfront 10.  At the end of June we hosted another outstanding event, Waterfront 10 at 32 North Brewing Company.  We listened to five great ideas in a very cozy atmosphere thanks to the outstanding questions and solid discussions of each idea by the audience.  Thank you to everyone who had the courage to present and came out to the event.  I’m always impressed by the ideas presented at our events and Waterfront 10 was no different.  Look for our next event in San Diego later this year.

Without further ado, the winner of the ADM Simms Award for Innovation for Waterfront Athena 10 and gift certificate from MakerPlace:

“Correlated Magnets” by LT Isaac Wang

Stumbling on these magnets while working on a separate product, LT Wang immediately saw the potential uses for the Navy.  Conventional magnets create a magnetic field with a North & South pole on opposing ends creating the attractive and repelling forces most people are familiar with. Scientists have figured out how to use software magnetizers to program a magnet to have a specific behavior that differs from traditional magnets.  Magnets can now be programmed to have N & S poles on the same side and in different arrangements to customize behaviors.  Correlated magnets can be programmed to repel and attract at different distances from each other.   They can have small magnetic fields that don’t interact with nearby electronics or have precise alignment not offered by normal magnets.

LT Wang brought with him a of these few magnet pairs to demonstrate their unique capabilities, which I will add were very cool to play with.  He described some potential uses for these magnets.   Example 1: Reducing the risk of pinch points in different equipment such with raising and lowering of small boats on surface ships.  Example 2: Significantly reduce drilling and welding on ships by replacing nuts, bolts, and screws with correlated magnets that can keep equipment in place without even having physical contact.  Example 3: UNREP and Pulling Alongside a Pier, reducing the potential risk of hull contact on piers.
In addition to winning the ADM Simms Award, LT Wang won a gift certificate to MakerPlace so he can further develop his idea into a working prototype.

Runner-Up: “RMV Replacement” by MN2 Alexander Paramo

After seeing the challenges facing the remote minehunting vehicle (RMV), “I figured I would try to out-do Lockheed,” MN2 Paramo said during his presentation.  Using only off the shelf equipment, he figured he could create a cheap but reliable replacement.

Using a Raspberry Pi 2B for the brains and 6 bilge pumps for propulsion, he is able to create a prototype for around $370. He acknowledges that for the true military use he would have to upgrade parts but he thinks it will still cost far less than than a single RMV which runs in the millions.

We look forward to his continued development and am excited to see his working prototype in the near future.

“Start a PRODEV Circle” by CDR Emily Bassett

Mentoring in any organization or service is always a challenge.  Creating an environment where you can ask questions and have conversation without fear of reprisal or judgement is difficult to foster.  The Navy has tried to create this through multiple mentoring programs but has yet to succeed.  CDR Bassett presented a solution  that helps to solve this problem.  Called the PRODEV circle and modeled on Lean in Circles, it is a group meeting to discuss topics and continue to grow as individuals.  This group is free from the constraints of their command to provide a place to address topics with two simple ground rules, the discussion will be confidential and no advice given.  CDR Bassett has already established some groups and has been encouraged by its’ results and hopes to see it to continue to grow.  If you’d like to find out more information you can email

“Block-Chain authentication for publications and a common web portal” by MN1 Brian Neal

An idea near and dear to anyone who has had to develop an instruction or gone through an inspection in the Navy, MN1 Neal presented an idea to deal with the challenges of making sure you have the right instruction.

Every year numerous instructions, publications, and other written documents go through revisions.  For inspections and even day to day operations, it’s required that you use the most current instruction.  MN1 Neal’s idea is to use block-chain authentication, the same encryption method utilized by Bitcoin, to assure the user that they have the most current instruction.  Essentially every time a document is edited it will track who and when the document was edited and permanently encode it into the document.  This would allow end users to know positively that they have the current validated version of any document no matter where they got it from.  Additionally, coupling this with a central location for all publications, instructions, directives, etc would simplify the challenges to the fleet in verifying they have the right instruction all the time.

“Arctic SWARRIORs” by LT Takeru Tajiri

As a result of global climate changes, the Northern seas will become increasingly accessible to ships and submarines. At the moment, there are multiple competing claims of ownership of these waters, primarily between Canada and Russia, although others are inclined to regard the Arctic waters as “common heritage.” This has not been problematic in the past since the waters were largely inaccessible and therefore irrelevant. That will change–maybe not soon, but eventually.  If we are to maintain the status quo in these waters 10-20 years from now, we will need to be able to operate in them.

The Coast Guard routinely operates icebreakers in the Arctic waters; however, FONOPS are not the domain of the USCG. LT Tajiri proposes that we begin sending a number of committed second-tour division officers to serve on USCG ships which operate in the Arctic/Antarctic regions, so that far into the future we will have a pool of surface line officers who understand the requirements when operating at extreme latitudes (problems like gyro drift, no reliable magnetic compass, icebergs, freezing equipment, cold injuries, sensor ranges, etc). We have manuals for cold weather operations, but these are no substitute for practical experience.

Thanks again to 32 North Brewing Company for hosting another event and to Makerplace for generously donating a prize for the winner.  You can check them out here:

32 North Brewing:
LCDR Mark Blaszczyk is the Combat Systems Training Lead in Commander Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One and the co-lead for The Athena Project’s San Diego chapter.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Civil Engineering and Duke University with a Masters in Business Administration.

There are loads of Athena Events coming up! If you’re in the San Diego, Groton or Yokosuka areas, connect with us if you want to be a part of our upcoming events! Connect with us on Facebook: or follow us on Twitter: @AthenaNavy. Interested in starting a movement of your own? Message us, or e-mail!

Our next event:

-Monterey 1.0:  August 25th 6-9pm at London Bridge Pub.  (256 Figueroa St, Monterey, CA 93940)