High-profile visit highlights capabilities and collaborations

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Matt Scassero, Navy Secretary Del Toro, and Dr. Ghodssi in front of Mechanical Engineering Lab

“I’m blown away.”

A high compliment from the Navy’s top man.

The Southern Maryland Navy Alliance held their annual dinner in the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland (USMSM) Southern Maryland Autonomous Research and Technology (SMART) Building Grand Hall Tuesday night. The Guest Speaker was the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro.

Prior to the dinner, he requested a tour of the building, to give him context as to what makes it unique. That includes the Maryland Autonomous Technologies Research Innovation and eXploration (MATRIX) Lab’s government and industry connections, collaborative partnerships, and research capabilities. MATRIX Lab Executive Director of Research and Innovation Dr. Reza Ghodssi and Director of Operations and Outreach Matt Scassero led the tour.

Navy Secretary Del Toro was impressed with the equipment, the potential, and specifically the united approach the University of Maryland (UMD) is taking with its partners to attack the nation’s biggest security challenges using collaborative research and problem-solving.

He also mentioned the Navy's specific and organic approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which is respecting everyone. Everyone can contribute to the workforce, and we need diverse knowledge, perspectives, and experiences in order to bring the best ideas to the table. DEI is a priority shared by the MATRIX Lab as part of the UMD community. It ties into USMSM’s mission to have an impact on the broader rural communities of Southern Maryland by bringing education and research to the area.

The dinner was held in the USMSM SMART Building Grand Hall, a rare space in Southern Maryland. It allows hundreds of people to gather in a private and professional space for conferences, events, and dinners.

This highly successful event was on the heels of two visits last Friday by Rear Admiral Lorin Selby, the Chief of Naval Research, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who was following up on a May visit by U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

The Southern Maryland team will continue to shine a spotlight on the SMART Building and MATRIX Lab, and demonstrate the capabilities we are bringing as UMD’s presence in the area.

Published October 27, 2022