SAN DIEGO – U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Thomas Schmitt, a computer science student at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), was honored as a recipient of the 2023 Copernicus Award during this year’s WEST 2023 Conference, Feb. 14.
The Copernicus Award, which is sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), was established to recognize individual contributions to naval warfare in command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I), information systems, cyber operations and information warfare.
“It is an extreme honor to win this award,” said Schmitt. “I am very proud, and quite frankly, blown away by the team of Marines I was fortunate enough to work with in earning this recognition.”
Schmitt was among 25 Copernicus Award winners from Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard commands who were recognized at a ceremony following the first day of WEST 2023, a prominent West Coast naval conference and exposition co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. Schmitt was presented with his award by Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy, Deputy Commandant for Information.
According to MARADMIN 513/22, nominees for the prestigious award must have made a “specific, demonstrable contribution to the advancement of C4I, Information Systems, or Cyber Operations during fiscal year 2022. Contributions can be technical in nature, but may also originate from doctrinal, fiscal, organizational, or other dimensions of information systems. The contribution should involve exceptional initiative, leadership, and insight within the nominee’s area of expertise.”
Schmitt was nominated for this award for work he completed at his previous command, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., involving commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) radars and how to use those sensors more effectively in a littoral environment.
While Schmitt is still a relatively new student at NPS, arriving in July 2022, he hopes to continue similar research in pursuit of master’s degree in computer science.
“I would really like to learn the ‘why,’” said Schmitt. “In the fleet, we are so focused on the six inches in front of our face that we don’t think about the big picture. I am hoping to gain a more nuanced understanding of the systems I was using in the fleet, and ultimately bring that knowledge to my next command to make the Marine Corps more effective.”
The Copernicus Award was established in 1997 as the result of a discussion among the late Vice Adm. Art Cebrowski, an NPS graduate who was serving as the Navy’s deputy chief of naval operations for communications networks (OPNAV N6); retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, president and chief executive officer of AFCEA International; and retired U.S. Navy Capt. James A. Barber, publisher and CEO of USNI. The name for the award came from the Copernicus Architecture used as the blueprint for the future C4I structure of the Navy.
WEST 2023 was held Feb. 14-16 in San Diego. The overarching theme for the conference was “Readiness, Capability, and Capacity: How Do the Sea Services Match Up Against the Future Threat?”