CSM Announces Keynote Speaker for 19th Winter Commencement Jan. 18

Ashley Johnson
Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson, Technical Director of Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, to speak

Ashley Johnson
Ashley Johnson


The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) will recognize candidates for degrees and certificates during its 19th Winter Commencement Jan. 18 at the La Plata Campus. Recognizing CSM’s nearly 60-year relationship with the Navy, a keynote address will be provided by Ashley Johnson. Johnson is the technical director of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NSWC IHEODTD), where he directs a multi-site workforce of approximately 1,900 employees with annual operations of more than $1 billion.

Johnson’s message to the graduates will focus on the value of failure in the learning process, he said. “My advice is this: Don’t be afraid to fail. Expect failure. Embrace it. But most importantly, learn from it. I believe there is just as much knowledge in failure as there is in success,” he said.

CSM and the NSWC in Indian Head have strengthened ties this past year, including moving forward with plans to open the Velocity Center in Indian Head, a partnership that offers opportunities for CSM students to learn from and work with world-class scientists at NSWC. The college has been associated with Indian Head since 1960 when an apprentice program was established at the Naval Ordnance Station, Indian Head, and this close association with the U.S. Navy has continued throughout the history of the college.

“The collaboration between the College of Southern Maryland and my command to establish the Velocity Center in the town of Indian Head, Maryland, was extraordinary,” Johnson said. “One of the challenges I face as technical director is the speed of the government’s acquisition cycle. Developing a new technology and getting it into the hands of the warfighter is an incredibly long and sometimes arduous process. And, true to its name, the Velocity Center will help speed up that process, while proving other incredible benefits to the command, the college and the community.

“Imagine a place where government and industry meet to discuss bettering technology for our armed forces, a place where they can go and get funding through grants, a place where students can go and learn first-hand; both the successes and failures of our collaborative enterprises and apply it to their own studies. That is the goal of the Velocity Center: a place for innovation, collaboration, research and knowledge sharing,” Johnson said. “None of this would be possible without the commitment and support from the College of Southern Maryland. CSM stepped up to answer the call when it mattered, and I am grateful to this institution and its leadership for what will undoubtedly be a boon to our respective organizations, the tri-county area, and ultimately the men and women of armed forces.”


Ashley Johnson Career Notes

Johnson’s division at NSWC is charged with leading the U.S. Department of Navy in providing energetics, ordnance and EOD technical capabilities for all DoD interests through research, development, testing, evaluation, engineering, manufacturing and in-service support.

“I am a chief of strategy officer,” Johnson said. “It is my job to oversee our projects and to ensure my workforce is accomplishing its objectives using safe and reliable operating procedures.”

During his tenure as technical director, Johnson has led the development of several major initiatives: a comprehensive strategic plan to revitalize and reinvigorate the facility and workload; a business case analysis to ensure optimal capabilities are maintained and developed; and the implementation of Center for Industrial Technical Excellence partnerships. Johnson also serves under the Chief Engineer of the Navy as the Deputy Warrant Officer for Explosive Ordnance Engineering.

Johnson began his career at the former NSWC Indian Head Division in 1987 and spent the next 12 years managing the command’s manufacturing operations for missile, torpedo and projectile warhead production. From 1999-2001, he managed and directed facilities and personnel within the command’s Surface Weapons and Ammunition Program. Johnson served as the Navy’s official spokesperson for the scale-up and production of nitramine gun propellants during the Gulf War.

From 2006-2012, Johnson served as the department head for the Office of Naval Research’s Hybrid Complex Warfare Science Division, where he managed and directed the integration of a science and technology (S&T) program consisting of basic and applied research, advanced technology development and other efforts. He also served as the applications director in the Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism S&T Department, where he oversaw both the Future Naval Capability and Exploration and Development programs.

Johnson’s other assignments included a tour as the S&T advisor at U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, where he served with the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command to include a deployment with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

In 1987, Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. In 2008, he graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces as the Commandant’s Distinguished Graduate and has a Master of Science in national resource strategy. He has completed the Defense Acquisition University Senior Acquisition Course, Navy Strategic Thinking Course and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI.

Johnson received the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2006, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award in 2013 and was selected to the Senior Executive Service in 2013.


CSM Winter Commencement Schedule

CSM’s winter commencement activities Jan. 18 will begin with a Nursing Recognition Ceremony at 1 p.m. in the Physical Education (PE) Center on the La Plata Campus with a reception immediately following on the upper level of the PE Center.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the PE Center and tickets are required. Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Doors will open for guests at 5 p.m. Doors will close when the procession begins, and guests without tickets or arriving after the doors close may view the ceremony from the Fine Arts (FA) Center, which will carry a live streaming broadcast. A reception immediately following commencement will be in the Center for Business and Industry (BI), Chaney Enterprises Conference Room BI-113.

In the event of inclement weather, a decision will be announced and posted at www.csmd.edu if commencement activities will be held on an alternate date. Graduates and guests may also call the inclement weather hotline at 301-369-1999 or 800-650-4023.

The safety of CSM students, guests and employees is of utmost importance. CSM will conduct bag checks at commencement, and all individuals may be subject to a bag check before entry. CSM Public Safety officials encourage guests to leave large secondary bags, diaper bags and backpacks in their vehicles or at home as these will be subject to the bag check process at the door.

Due to commencement activities, the PE building at the La Plata Campus will be closed for fitness and aquatics activities on Jan. 18.

For information on commencement, visit www.csmd.edu/commencement.



CSM 2018 Winter Graduation Commencement. 6 p.m., Jan. 18. College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Physical Education Center (PE Building), 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. The College of Southern Maryland will recognize its winter graduates. Tickets are required to the PE Building; however, tickets are not required to the Fine Arts Building (FA), where the ceremony will be broadcast, but seats are limited. Guests are asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony. All guests are subject to a bag check before entry. graduation@csmd.edu, www.csmd.edu/commencement. Nursing recognition will occur at 1 p.m. in the PE Building.