University of South Carolina, Navatek win contract to research Navy power and energy systems

Navatek opens Columbia office, looks to further expand job opportunities in state

Update Sept. 28, 2020: Navatek is in the process of changing its name to Martin Defense Group. The new company name, Martin Defense Group, embodies the company’s expanded vision, to become a world-leader in developing cutting edge defense solutions.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research has awarded the partnership of the University of South Carolina and Navatek LLC a $9.2 million contract for the research of power and energy systems and the development of digital twin prototypes. Advanced power control systems will be developed to intelligently manage the power and energy resources on ships that use directed energy weapons, such as railguns, lasers and missile defense radars.

The end goal of this project is to harness the full power of a ship’s electrical system to meet mission-critical needs, with the help of semi- and fully autonomous decision aids for commanders, to be developed by Navatek and South Carolina.

The program’s goal is to conduct research into power and energy systems modeling and machine learning, and to design and develop a first-of-a-kind digital twin of combat power and energy systems for the U.S. Navy. Navatek and UofSC will deliver tightly coupled hardware and software to demonstrate, test and validate the performance of the digital twin control systems.

As a flagship institution with a tremendously talented group of researchers and students, we are uniquely positioned to help drive the kind of technological innovation that benefits our partners and the state’s economy.

President Bob Caslen

UofSC has extensive expertise in ship-scale power electronics and related systems. South Carolina will research, design and test electrical power and device control system prototypes. In anticipation of this award, Navatek has hired 10 full-time scientists and engineers and four interns from UofSC and South Carolina State University at the new Navatek office in Columbia. Navatek intends to expand its presence in the state to 60 people over the next 30 months, contingent on new contract awards.

“Navatek is thrilled to lay roots in South Carolina and to formally partner with UofSC, a leader in power systems for the Navy,” says Martin Kao, chief executive officer of Navatek. “Navatek’s initial capital investments have enabled us to open a permanent 10,000 square-foot office in Columbia. The office location is ideally co-located with our research partners and gives us the ability to recruit, hire and retain graduates, and provide internships from both UofSC and SCSU. This award will immediately give the employees of our Columbia office the opportunity to work on the latest and leading-edge technologies and challenges with the development of digital twins for the Navy. As our base of employees grows in South Carolina, we look forward to bringing into the state Navatek’s diverse and expansive portfolio of work and research. I take great personal ownership and responsibility for the long-term job security and prosperity of Navatek’s employees and the jobs we create in South Carolina. We are committed to South Carolina for the long term.”

“We’re excited about this research partnership with Navatek and its potential to assist our nation’s military,” UofSC President Bob Caslen says. “As a flagship institution with a tremendously talented group of researchers and students, we are uniquely positioned to help drive the kind of technological innovation that benefits our partners and the state’s economy.”

“We are delighted to partner with Navatek on this groundbreaking project,” says Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing. “This is a very timely opportunity for UofSC to continue to lead the nation in the emerging field of Navy digital twin research and to educate and train the next generation of innovators in this, and related fields. The research and development strengths of Navatek and UofSC are truly complementary, making the joint team uniquely positioned to develop innovative solutions and expert personnel for the Navy for many years to come.”

“I am excited about this new opportunity between the University of South Carolina and Navatek as they work to provide new technologies that will enhance the capability of the United States Navy and ensure that our fleet is ready for the fights of the future,” Sen. Lindsey Graham says.

“This university-industry partnership will lay a strong foundation for ongoing work with the Navy and will assist in accelerating research aimed at solving problems for the Department of Defense,” Rep. Jim Clyburn says. “I am pleased by Navatek’s decision to partner with UofSC and South Carolina State University to provide internship programs and job opportunities for South Carolina students.”

“This is a win-win for all parties, especially the state of South Carolina,” Rep. Joe Wilson says. “I am grateful that projects like these will grow our STEM-focused workforce, resulting in more career opportunities and good-paying jobs.

About Navatek: Navatek is a leading provider of innovative research and development services for the Department of Defense, NASA and other government agencies. Historically a provider of naval architecture and modeling and simulation services, its portfolio has diversified to encompass digital twins, power and energy systems, unmanned vehicles, robotics, autonomy, AI/ML, data science, inflatables, composites and additive manufacturing. Since its founding in Hawaii in 1979, Navatek has grown to open offices in Rhode Island, Maine, Virginia, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Kansas.

About University of South Carolina: The University of South Carolina is a globally recognized, high-impact research university committed to a superior student experience and dedicated to innovation in learning, research and community engagement. Founded in 1801, the university offers more than 350 degree programs and is the state’s only top-tier Carnegie Foundation research institution. More than 50,000 students are enrolled at one of 20 locations throughout the state, including the research campus in Columbia. With 56 nationally ranked academic programs including top-ranked programs in international business, the nation’s best honors college and distinguished programs in engineering, law, medicine, public health and the arts, the university is helping to build healthier, more educated communities in South Carolina and around the world.