Rear Adm. Carl Lahti remembers meeting Rear Adm. Grace Hopper as a plebe.
She gave a lecture at Mitscher Hall, during which she handed out pieces of nanowire, including to Lahti.
That was 34 years ago, Lahti said Thursday, as he stood in front of the Naval Academy’s latest building.
“I would never believe today we would be dedicating a hall to her honor and her legacy,” Lahti, commandant of the Naval District Washington, said.
Hopper Hall is the academy’s new center for cybersecurity studies. Although the academy celebrated its ribbon cutting Thursday, the building has been open with students attending in-person classes since mid-September, according to an academy press release.
Hopper Hall represents the future of the Navy, Lahti said, adding that the building shows the commitment of the Navy to advancements in cybersecurity and cyber warfare. The midshipmen trained in the $143 million building could be asked to provide code patches to keep a ship on the network, as an example, Lahti said.
“We do not know what is going to come out of the heads of the midshipmen who are being trained here, but what it is going to be is great and glorious,” he said.
While the ribbon ceremony focused on the advancements in cybersecurity, the new building will now provide, speakers also took time to remember Hopper.
She was infamous for handing out the nanowire, like the one Lahti received. She used it to show, in an understandable way, how quickly information flowed, said Vice Adm. Sean Buck, Naval Academy superintendent.
“Adm. Hopper was a brilliant computer scientist whose contributions to the field are responsible for many of the modern computing advancements we take for granted today,” Buck said. “She was an innovative thinker who bucked against archaic systems that stifled our nation’s advancements in technology.”
Hopper Hall reflects the vision of the Navy, the Department of Defense and Congress in preparing future leaders to be prepared against cyber attacks, said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Baltimore County , who is the chair of the academy’s Board of Visitors.
“Hopper will be a place where our country’s future leaders will learn to ask new and reasonable questions,” Ruppersberger said. “It’ll be a place for inspiration and innovation for decades to come.”
The state-of-the-art facility will bring the computer science, engineering and robotics curricula to the forefront, Buck said. Hopper believed in letting students have the space and freedom to develop innovative ideas, and Buck said he believes the new glass, open space building will allow midshipmen to do that.
Hopper Hall is the first building at the Naval Academy, as well as the Air Force Academy and Military Academy at West Point, to be named after a woman.
“Above and beyond Adm. Hopper’s incredible contributions to computer science, to national security and the Naval Academy, it’s apt that we have chosen to name out newest building in her honor,” Buck said.
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