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NEWS | Nov. 14, 2014

Navy Engineer Assigned as Science Advisor to U.S. Ambassador to South Korea

By Joseph Battista Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, Public Affairs Specialist

Dr. Peter Cho, electrical engineer at Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station(NAVSSES) began a three-month assignment in early November as the U.S. Embassy Science Fellow, Power and Energy specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Cho, who received the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in April for his coordination of numerous international science and technology projects, was selected for this position to help establish a smart micro-grid technology project with his South Korean counterparts and support the U.S. Embassy's Environment, Science, Technology and Energy team. He will work with representatives from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (DASN) Energy Office, the Navy's Pacific Command (PACOM), Naval Facilities Command (NAVFAC), and the Navy International Program Office (NIPO), as well as the U.S. Department of Energy.

"It is a great honor to be selected to the ESF program," said Cho who earned his doctorate in systems engineering from the University of New Hampshire. "I am more than excited to make a significant contribution to the U.S. Navy's future capabilities."

Cho is one of 1.7 million Korean-American descendants in the United States. He said he has a strong cultural knowledge of Korea and speaks the language fluently - two things he attributes to why he may have been selected for the job. He also worked with South Korea on an $80 million joint project while assigned to Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) from 2007-2011.

"Given Dr. Cho's technical background and experience as an ONR Global associate director, I thought the ESF in (South) Korea was a perfect fit for him," said Dr. Patricia Gruber, ONRG technical director. "Power and energy is a key technology area for both the United States and Republic of Korea. ONR will benefit from his fellowship by continuing to strengthen our relationships with the Republic of Korea science and technology community."

"As a NAVSSES engineer working on power and energy, this position is a great opportunity to make a significant technical contribution to the U.S. Navy," said Cho whose federal career spans 23 years. "Smart micro-grid technology is a key for energy security, mission enhancement, combat effectiveness and readiness through use of energy, increased use of renewable and alternative energy, integration of smart energy technologies, and reduction in our dependence of foreign oil."

Cho, who holds 29 patents and published more than 60 technical papers, said U.S. Embassy's need strong technical expertise to develop policy and technical collaboration with host governments, universities and other organizations because most embassy personnel do not have a science background.

"The benefits of collaboration are access to unique facilities and equipment, the opportunity to share techniques and skills, increase knowledge capacity, and share costs and risks while strengthening areas of weakness," said Cho, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts and a second master's in business administration from Anderson University.

Before the assignment in South Korea, Cho was detailed from NAVSSES to ONR as a program officer where he manages discovery and invention (D&I) and science and technology (S&T) projects with academic professors, industries, and government labs. He also provided oversight and guidance for approving, monitoring, and ensuring accountability with both domestic and international grants and contracts of up to $3.5 million.

"Personally the ESF program is a great career development tool that will increase my technical capability when I return to NAVSSES," said Cho, who began working at NAVSSES in 2004. "But, more importantly, it will enhance the Navy's relationship with our allies through joint projects."

Cho's completes his assignment in January 2015, but said it could be extended depending on funding.

The Ship Systems Engineering Station, Philadelphia is a major component of Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division. It is the Navy's principal test and evaluation station and in-service engineering agent for all hull, mechanical and electrical ship systems and equipment and has the capability to test and engineer the full range of shipboard systems and equipment from full-scale propulsion systems to digital controls and electric power systems.

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