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US Naval Research Laboratory Mechanical Engineer Reviews

Updated 16 Jul 2020

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4.4
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US Naval Research Laboratory Commanding Officer Scott D Moran
Scott D Moran
1 Rating
  1. "Excellent Experience, Subpar Pay"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineering Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Naval Research Laboratory full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    There are tons of perks that come with working for a lab funded by the DoD. Lab employees get lots of exciting projects and almost complete freedom over the work they do, so long as it makes progress towards something productive. Each division is different, so your mileage may vary, but I found the work I was doing to be engaging and exciting, and it was all challenging but doable, as an internship should be. With very few exceptions (see Cons), my manager is quick to help and stays engaged with me as an intern, and I can usually get good help from other more experienced engineers when I need it. Something I really enjoy, but may be a con to others, is the variety in my work. Any given day could be completely different from the one before, as new problems or even entirely new projects pop up frequently. Additionally, the name is reputable and it provides amazing talking points for interviews or career fairs.

    Cons

    The specific area I work in is full of great people doing exciting work, but they are usually pretty spread out. In a given day I may only even interact with 1 or 2 people, which gets a bit lonely. Also, there have been some times when a project stalls, and everyone is so busy that I have been stuck in need of assistance and unable to find reliable help. As I write this even, I'm stuck on a problem that I do not know how to solve, and the response from management is "read a textbook and figure it out." Part of me thinks that is awesome, as I get to learn a ton while I work, but it also puts me in a difficult spot as my work is delayed substantially while I spend my time reading textbooks and watching online lectures. If I could just walk 5 minutes over to another more experienced engineer, I'm sure they could help me out pretty quickly, but everyone is so busy all the time that I don't usually get to do that. Of course that is also in part due to the fact that I am a mechanical engineer working in a lab focused primarily on electrical engineering, so most of my coworkers don't know the solutions either. That brings me to some of the trouble with the division model at NRL. Each division and branch acts as its own separate unit. I have NEVER interacted with an employee outside my division, with the exception of the occasional conversation during lunch. Finally, pay is not great. I started at the bare minimum GS scale pay, and I am still there after 3 summers worth of work and multiple major steps up in my education. With DC raising their minimum wage, I now make less than a McDonalds fry cook. That said, the educational experience alone is so great I might even do this work for free, but it still would be nice to get a decent wage.

  2. "Great place to learn and develop"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Mechanical Engineer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Naval Research Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    At NRL you have great access to resources and mentors.

    Cons

    Being next to blue plains can be unpleasant at times.

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  3. "Pretty Good"

    4.0
    Current Intern - Mechanical Engineer Trainee 
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at US Naval Research Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    I haven't been here that long but all the people I've talked to seem happy and keep saying that the NRL offers more flexibility than other government jobs.

    Cons

    Most of the buildings are very old. Not a big deal though

  4. "Great environmnet"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at US Naval Research Laboratory full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Large variety of projects to work on Opportunities to work with different divisions Helpful and responsive HR Access to plenty of top-of-the-line engineering resources like Solidworks

    Cons

    Down-time in between projects can make work dull Some buildings are old and have HVAC issues The drive is long if you don't live in or right next to DC

  5. "Shadwell (Mobile, AL)"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Mechanical Engineering Intern in Mobile, AL
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at US Naval Research Laboratory for more than a year

    Pros

    The interns have a great boss who is flexible with student work schedules and understanding of the physically taxing work you are doing.

    Cons

    This isn't necessarily a con, but you should know that working aboard the Shadwell is hazardous and it isn't easy work. You can go for a couple months without much to do, but once a testing series starts you have to get to it. It's extremely hot and hard work sometimes. It isn't anything you can't handle if you've ever worked construction in the summer down south though. One thing that is a bummer about the internship though is that it isn't a program designed to get you a job with the NRL after graduation. There is no job waiting for you when you graduate; partly because the Shadwell is really just the head site engineer, his student interns, and the maintenance workers. The test facility is the only NRL office in the area, the next closest is at Stennis, about 2 or so hours away.

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  6. Helpful (4)

    "Brilliant people working"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at US Naval Research Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Almost all my coworkers at NRL have been creative problem solvers who were eager to share ideas and collaborate. Many are experts, well-regarded in their fields, with decades of experience and numerous publications.

    Cons

    The Laboratory's divisions are essentially separate fiefdoms, and movement and communication among them can be difficult and time consuming, especially in the area of personnel transfers and manpower allocation across the organization. "Stovepiping" is perhaps the best descriptive term.

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