Marvin Dale Martin immediately went to work as a mechanical engineer for the U.S. Department of the Navy, Bureau of Ships, in Washington, DC, upon the completion of his BSME degree in 1952. He proceeded to receive a steady series of promotions until he reached the rank of GS-15 and the title of head engineer for systems performance in 1966.
Martin was one of the principal inventors of many of the control systems for both experimental high- speed hydrofoils and air cushion vehicles. His responsibilities included both automatic and manual control of ship attitude, stability, steering, hydrofoil extension/retraction systems, and a variety of stabilization systems. He was the project engineer/manager for the Navy's first activated fin stabilizer system – a system still in widespread use today. He was also the project engineer for the highly accurate automatic steering control and stabilization systems for the Navy's Polaris program. In addition to these projects, he also developed a novel low-altitude radar altimeter and managed the development of a special cable-laying system and the specifications for a ship to carry out the operation.
As one of the final projects of his career, Martin originated and managed the industry/Navy/joint services automatic testing project. This project was an extremely complex undertaking to assess the impact of complex weapon systems. This effort included not only military, but private industry associations including the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Security Industrial Association, the Electronic Industries Association, the Shipbuilders Council of America and the American Electronics Association. Martin's file is rich with letters of commendation for his efforts throughout his career, but especially for his role as the prime mover of this project. He was honored with a presidential citation signed by the five presidents of the industry associations involved in the project and was officially commended for this work by Admiral A.J. Whittle, Jr., chief of Naval Material Command.