Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Kehl Waters

Webb Institute has always been a place for exceptional engineering students - it's also the starting point for some of the most exceptional engineering teachers in the nation. Take Jennifer Kehl Waters, whose promotion (effective this summer) to Chair of the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Department at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) will make her a true trailblazer as the first and only female engineering department chair ever (to date) at USNA.

Jennifer graduated from Webb in 1991; always fascinated with the ocean, she continued her education at Stevens Institute of Technology graduating in 1993 with a M.Eng. in Ocean Engineering and again in 1995 with a Ph.D.

Interspersed with her academic pursuits, Jennifer gained a variety of design, experimental and field experience during winter and summer work assignments in the U.S. and Australia and while serving as a research assistant at both Webb and Stevens. While still working on her Ph.D. dissertation at Stevens, Jennifer joined the USNA faculty in 1994 as a research instructor; she achieved the tenure track position of Assistant Professor in 1995.

Jennifer has made outstanding contributions to the marine field as both an educator and a research engineer at USNA, providing a key link between the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering communities, and most notably between industry and academia. Jennifer is an internationally renowned researcher in the field and, in addition to her own work, is often invited to provide assistance with, or peer review of, various projects. Jennifer has been principal investigator for a number of high profile research and development programs and receives continuing support from both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Office of Naval Research. She further solidified her credentials by earning her Professional Engineer's license in 2002.

With a reputation for effective teaching and excellent communication skills Jennifer is well-liked and respected by students and colleagues alike. She's often invited to give presentations, seminars or short courses to practicing engineers and even non-engineers in the marine industry. Her dedication and high principles have led to Jennifer's recruitment to service on a number of critical, high profile committees at USNA including the Admissions Board and the Academic Dean and Provost search committee.

Jennifer has earned numerous awards and accolades along the way to her historic appointment, including the SNAME Wilbur N. Landers Fellowship (1992), the Stevens Institute Robert Crooks Stanley Fellowship (1992-1995), the Stevens Institute John P. Breslin Research Award (1995), DC Council of Engineering and Architectural Societies (DCCEAS) Young Engineer of the Year Award (2003), the ASNE Rosenblatt Young Naval Engineer Award (2005) and the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (2009).

Jennifer was promoted to Associate Professor (tenured) in 2001 and to full Professor in 2008. Her promotion to Chair of the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Department at USNA is just the most recent recognition of Jennifer's capabilities, an achievement that truly honors her trailblazing path.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Jennifer is committed to serving the community that has nurtured her development, and she seizes every opportunity to put her abilities to work for others. From teaching kindergarten students and Girl Scouts basic science and good citizenship, to mentoring college students at USNA and other institutions in career possibilities, Jennifer is committed to developing future generations. Jennifer has also been committed to supporting the marine industry through the associated professional societies, serving as faculty representative to USNA student chapters of both the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE), Chair of the ASNE Scholarship Committee, and member of the national ASNE Council. In 2009 Jennifer was elected to the post of ASNE Vice President.

Her professional accomplishments are matched by a fulfilling family life: Jennifer married Tom (Webb class of 1989) in 1993 and produced two beautiful daughters - Allison in 1996 and Linda in 1998. She currently resides just outside Annapolis, Maryland, and enjoys spending her free time with her adoring family.