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Champion for Student Success, Interdisciplinary Research Earns NPS Hamming Award

NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau presents award to Assistant Professor of Systems Engineering Douglas Van Bossuyt.

NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau, left, congratulates Assistant Professor of Systems Engineering Douglas Van Bossuyt, presenting him the Richard W. Hamming Faculty Award for Interdisciplinary Achievement during the Winter Quarter Graduation Awards Ceremony in Herrmann Hall, March 14.

Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Assistant Professor Douglas Van Bossuyt, Department of Systems Engineering, is the 2023 recipient of the Richard W. Hamming Faculty Award for Interdisciplinary Achievement.

“NPS is a special place for cross-cutting research on real Navy, DOD needs,” said Van Bossuyt. “Our research impacts many aspects of the naval enterprise and DOD, including installation and operational microgrid resilience; additive manufacturing for the surface fleet and expeditionary forces; assault amphibious vehicle failures; UAS and other UxS systems and C-UAS systems; a Zero-Trust philosophy for systems engineering and operations; and sustainment and maintenance model verification and validation, among others.”

Van Bossuyt, who arrived at NPS in 2018, says providing the highest instruction to his students is a passion, and one of his three pillars of scholarship – teaching, research and service. And it shows, as he consistently receives high marks in student surveys for his teaching and mentorship – which in fact led to his receipt of the Hamming Teaching Award in 2022.

Recognized for his interdisciplinary work with this latest accolade, his research and scholarship is not solely within his own discipline, Systems Engineering, but cross-pollinates with other departments on campus, including Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Operations Research, Defense Analysis (DA), Information Systems, and the Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation (MOVES) program. And Van Bossuyt has embraced hybrid and distance learning modalities, seamlessly working in both environments.

In the execution of this research, Van Bossuyt ensures his students are in position to publish their work, bringing a recognition to their efforts that extends well beyond the NPS campus.

“My students have been lead authors on 13 of the 20 peer-reviewed journal articles that I have published in the last two years, disseminating research beyond NPS’ library to the right people in the Pentagon. I also have advised or co-authored with 144 students,” he said.

Van Bossuyt has also implemented a “manuscript option” through the students’ thesis preparation.

“This means student thesis documents are primarily comprised of a journal manuscript prepared for submission,” said Van Bossuyt. “This puts students in the lead on publishing their research.

“I am now implementing appropriate renditions of the ‘manuscript option’ with my capstone and Ph.D. students and several of my SE colleagues have followed suit,” he added. “Additionally, the Computer Science department is also trialing the concept. This has led to many wonderful opportunities to collaborate, share resources, and compare notes with my colleagues to maximize student success.”

Van Bossuyt says this interdisciplinary research at NPS is an indicator of just how strong the school recognizes and invests in cross-pollination of its faculty and programs. This has also provided him with an opportunity to support a very large number of students in varying capacities.

“Since 2018, I have advised 19 Systems Engineering master’s students, co-advised 11 master’s students, and been a second reader for six master’s students. I have also advised, co-advised, or been the second reader for 17 capstone teams totaling 94 students, and have supervised three project teams for the Engineering Systems master’s program with eight students total,” Van Bossuyt explains.

“I am supervising two Systems Engineering doctoral students and am/have been on four doctoral committees. This interdisciplinary research cannot be achieved without students and faculty from many disciplines across campus,” he added.

All totaled, Van Bossuyt’s impressive impact on NPS and its students over the past few years is worth recognition, but he is quick to point to the NPS community, and its unique mission and students, that are the catalysts for his success.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s the synergistic value of the NPS team,” he said. “It’s rare and special for an assistant professor to conduct the kinds of research we’re engaged with at NPS … There are many other faculty who could have been selected for this award, as we are all striving to collaborate along different disciplines. We couldn’t do this kind of research without collaboration.”

The Richard W. Hamming Faculty Award for Interdisciplinary Achievement, named after NPS professor emeritus Dr. Richard W. Hamming, annually highlights one faculty member who demonstrates a commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and exceptional teaching skills. Hamming's dedication to teaching and research are well known, specifically in the mathematics, computer science and telecommunications fields of study. Hamming taught at NPS as an adjunct professor from 1976 to 1997.

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