Austin Alvarez has seen a lot of shocking situations over more than 40 years at Electric Boat Corporation in Connecticut. A division of General Dynamics, Electric Boat designs, builds and maintains nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy. Alvarez, of Gales Ferry, CT, a staff engineer and technical leader for shock and structures development, received on May 22, 2010, an Alumni Achievement award from NJIT. The award highlighted his vital work affecting the safety and survivability of the Navy’s undersea fleet.
Alvarez’s service to submariners began with his 1968 degree in civil engineering. Although he enjoyed playing junior varsity basketball during his first two years at NJIT, he switched to intramural competition due to the demands of his academic program. Of that program, he says, “I had many outstanding courses and professors, but the writing course I had with Doc Estrin still stands out in my memory. Being able to write well and communicate effectively has been invaluable.”
Joining Electric Boat the year he graduated, Alvarez has ably applied all of his skills in the course of a career that began, as he recalls, when engineers worked with slide rules. As in every field, the introduction of computers was revolutionary. Dynamic shock analysis was among the key applications for Electric Boat ― facilitating sophisticated modeling of the forces generated by events such as underwater explosions and their effects on submarine structures and attached equipment.
Alvarez had the opportunity to specialize in this analytical area early on at Electric Boat. He subsequently led efforts to bring a number of significant advances on board, including the application of the Underwater Shock Analysis Code to submarines.
In addition to his NCE degree, Alvarez has an MS in civil engineering from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from Rensselaer. He is a Professional Engineer registered in Connecticut. Numerous awards attest to his professional accomplishments. In 2005, he received the General Dynamics Technology Excellence Award for his contributions to structural engineering and shock design and analysis. In 2009, he was inducted into the University of Connecticut, Academy of Distinguished Engineers and honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Shock and Vibration Information Analysis Center.
Alvarez is succinct when it comes to characterizing his four decades with Electric Boat: “I’ve never been bored a day on the job. There are always new challenges.” Not long ago, he even had a major assignment with echoes of a part-time job he held while an undergraduate. As an undergraduate student, Alvarez worked part-time and summers for the Newark engineering firm that had designed several new buildings for NJIT’s expanding campus, and he inspected concrete poured for the structures.
For a multi-year project launched in 2004, Alvarez led the design team that conceived unique strategies for using reinforced concrete to extend the service life of Electric Boat’s three graving docks ― the massive facilities where submarines are built and repaired. The legacy for the U.S. Navy and the nation is that Graving Docks 1 and 2 have been certified for 50 more years of service and Graving Dock 3 for 75 more years.