2016 Rising Star Awards
Marc A. Santoro
Deputy Lead, Electromagnetic Railgun Fire Control Integrated Product Team, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Department of the Navy
- By Sean D. Carberry
- Nov 11, 2016
At the age of 13, Marc Santoro got his hands on a used computer with a 386 processor and a 40MB hard drive. He then joined an online chat about programming, and someone told him to learn Linux.
“Linux was a very crude operating system at the time,” Santoro said. “I was just entranced. It was so cool.”
He was hooked. He went on to earn an M.S. in computer science from Tennessee Technological University and got a job in the private sector that focused on high-availability, high-reliability applications. After a year in industry, he joined the Department of the Navy and is now deputy lead of the Electromagnetic Railgun Fire Control Integrated Product Team.
To save the government time and money, Santoro recommended using open-source technology and modular design, which allows the team to develop software functionality independently and then integrate and test the modules. The approach also facilitates rapid integration with other elements, such as different sensors and gun mounts, rather than having to rewrite the entire code base to accommodate new elements. He also ensured that the hardware components would meet the system’s requirement for low latency.
His efforts have resulted in 23 internal engineering builds, with one used in a successful live-fire test and six delivered to external organizations for various testing activities. The results are helping the Navy design a game-changing next-generation weapons system that will provide all controls for gun power, aiming and projectile initialization in surface and air engagements.
Colleagues say the team has met the railgun’s complex design challenges with optimism and determination as a direct result of Santoro’s leadership and motivation.
“Many other software engineers excel at one or a small number of tasks, but Marc excels at everything he does,” said Howie Wendt, leader of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division’s Electromagnetic Weapons Systems Division. “Additionally, he is as likely to spend his time with junior team members helping them with coding basics as with more senior team members dealing with integration and advanced testing.”
Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.