November 29, 2010

Applied Physics Lab creates two new senior posts

The Applied Physics Laboratory, which throughout its history has encouraged and fostered innovation, has recently put a new leadership structure in place to ensure that the Lab operates efficiently, effectively and strategically well into the 21st century.

Director Ralph Semmel has created two senior administration positions to make sure that the Lab is “well-positioned to face future challenges.”

Semmel, who assumed his post July 1, tapped Jerry Krill to be the assistant director for science and technology, a role created to emphasize innovation and broaden the role of science and technology in APL’s strategic plans. Ron Luman is now the Lab’s assistant director for strategy.

Krill, who has been at the Lab since 1973, will also serve as chief technology officer and oversee the Milton Eisenhower Research Center, Office of Technology Transfer and APL Education Center.

“Jerry’s Lab-wide program knowledge and experience, combined with his deep appreciation for innovation, make him a great choice for this position,” Semmel said.

Luman said that his new position is a natural extension of his former role at the helm of APL’s National Security Analysis Department.

“Many of the challenges we addressed in NSAD—identifying emerging challenges to national security, characterizing operational contexts defining future force requirements, evaluating the impact and implications of new technology—have helped our sponsors identify their strategic direction much in the same way that they help the Lab overall identify what direction we should be heading,” Luman said.

Luman will serve as point person for identifying, prioritizing and resolving key strategic issues. His first major initiative will be to spearhead a streamlined and responsive strategic planning process that will flow down to the business areas of the Lab. In February, the APL executive council intends to release a one-page description of the Lab’s vision, strategy and execution priorities. Soon thereafter, the Lab will release a position paper for each business area and enterprise department that will be aligned with the organization’s overall strategic priorities.

Luman also will chair a new investment strategy team, comprising the assistant directors and chief financial officer, which will make recommendations and decisions regarding investments for the future.

“Ron has successfully led the National Security Analysis Department for the past seven years and has been highly effective in leading our recent planning efforts as acting director of Strategic Planning,” Semmel said.

Prior to joining the Joint Warfare Analysis Department in 2000, Luman, who joined the Lab in 1978, was in the Strategic Systems Department for 21 years. He also spent two years as the APL chief systems engineer.

Krill has been the Lab’s assistant director for programs since 2005, overseeing APL’s 600-plus programs and leading its quality management initiatives. He’s also an inventor with numerous patents and patents pending to his name, including ones for plastic electric motors and 3-D virtual reality displays.

Krill said that he’ll keep a wide view of Lab programs but focus specifically on ways to tackle critical challenges with new technology. He will build on the work of the Lab’s Science and Technology Council and of John Sommerer, former chief technology officer, who earlier this year was appointed head of the Lab’s Space Department.

“We need to make sure we understand the challenges our sponsors must address, and align our advanced concepts and technologies with those challenges,” Krill said. “Working with the business areas and departments, I believe we’ll see some new opportunities for innovation.”

Krill was instrumental in developing the Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability system that links air defense systems within a battle group. Before becoming assistant director, he led the Power Projection Systems Department for four years, also heading up the Precision Engagement and Infocentric Operations business areas.

Located in Laurel, Md., the university’s APL division performs research and development on behalf of the Department of Defense, NASA and other government sponsors. It was founded in 1942 to mobilize scientific brainpower to provide advanced technology solutions to wartime defense problems. More than 70 percent of APL’s nearly 5,000 staff members are scientists and engineers.

Mike Buckley and Paulette Campbell of APL contributed to this story.