WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL)“Launching in 2022” Air Force Research Laboratory Commander Major General Heather L. Pringle wants lab staff to continue embracing their “inner unicorn” – their “inner nerdiness and geekiness.”


“We wear it loud and clear,” Pringle said in the January 24 AFRL. Lab life podcast episode 61, acknowledging the term of endearment she gave the lab staff in an episode last year for the incredible and unique talents they bring to their work.


During Episode 61: “Launching 2022,” Pringle highlights some of the successes of 2021 that AFRL is leading into the new year and some of the exciting work ahead.


Two AFRL technologies were featured in Popular Science magazine 100 greatest innovations of 2021. the High Power Tactical Operational Responder (THOR) won in the technology and security category, and Skyborgthe AFRL’s unmanned aerial vehicles, won the aerospace category.


“It’s nothing that no one ever seeks, but it’s just a fun recognition for the hard work the scientists, engineers, professionals and all the AFRL unicorns do every day,” Pringle said. “Just getting that kind of recognition from a wider audience, it’s not often you get the opportunity to share that kind of work with the public eye.”


The AFRL received other national attention in 2021, including its designation as a Quantum Information Science Research Center for the Air Force and Space Force. The laboratory also deployed a new Space University Research Initiative, which involves working with industry and academia to develop space science and technology. In terms of transformational technology, the AFRL TECHNOLOGY process led the Air Force Department to announce a fourth Air Force Vanguard, rocket cargowhich aims to deliver large capacity goods anywhere in the world within short lead times.

Adapt to the changing world


Pringle also spoke about the AFRL’s continued supportive response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Epidemiologists from the AFRL and its 711th Human Performance Wing have been monitoring Covid by doing things like conducting research on aircraft decontamination and analyzing samples to see if our service members around the world test positive. Pringle recently visited the epidemiology lab as they dealt with the recent outbreak, and she said they were ramping up production right now, but morale was high.


“Their role continues to be very relevant today, as it was last year,” she said. “COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. And here we are at the start of 2022. It’s been a long road. We still have a lot of important work to do. So, we’re getting the job done. We have the right technologies, the right precautions in place, but it is just important that we maintain our vigilance and follow precautions as required by local conditions at each of our AFRL sites.


When Lab Life hosts Kenneth McNulty and Michele Miller asked how the AFRL supports other priorities, such as new Air Force Secretary Frank KendallFocusing on China, Pringle said the Air Force and Space Force act as a “technology brain trust.”


“So we have to be part of the technology solutions that help our fighters for future fights or future competitions,” Pringle said. “And we follow the priorities of the secretary very closely. We are aligned and we support all his initiatives. Along with strategists, acquirers and combatants, our technologists step in and we help ensure that the best cutting-edge technologies are delivered to the field within the timeframe desired by the secretary. So we’re looking back in our vaults, re-evaluating technologies, looking for new opportunities, partnering with the industry, and doing everything we can to meet the secretary’s intent.


With these priorities in mind, Pringle Commander’s intent for the laboratory continues to execute and accelerate the principles of Science and technology strategy for 2030; The mantra “One laboratory, two services” and be the best AFRL team possible. To build on this mantra, Andy Williams was hired as a full-time Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Space S&T, after Dr. Kelly Hammettwho performed some of the duties of the part-time role while dual-hatted as director of the AFRL Directed direction of energy.


One particular area of ​​the AFRL Pringle S&T space predicts increased attention this year is climate.


“The AFRL has a long history of research and development on all the different impacts on air operations and space operations. We also need to better understand space weather, for example, and how that affects operations in space. And even looking at how can we be more efficient with our use of energy. We certainly operate in these harsh environments, and so gaining this better understanding of the factors that affect our ability to function is part of what the AFRL does. .



Transform the business


Another area of ​​focus for Pringle is the digital transformation of the lab enterprise. Pringle commissioned a digital transformation strategy at the end of 2021 and said setting up a digital war room will be one of the first tasks in 2022, with a focus on data.


“You won’t have digital transformation if you don’t have the right data stored, accessible, transparent and shareable, and so that’s what we’ll be focusing on to increase the state of discovery,” he said. she declared.


She cited increasing and leveraging the use of collaborative tools, such as MS Teams and Google Pilot, as contributing to successful partnerships with academia, industry and external partners. Other digital tools like social media and online events such as AFRL Hack-A-Sat expanded AFRL’s reach to STEM and non-governmental communities.


“It’s not just about the workforce we have today and the work we do today,” Pringle said. “It’s about what do we need in the future? We don’t know what the future holds, and so we need to create this constant flow of STEM talent to be excited about solving the tough problems we have at AFRL and get them excited about the work we’re doing. do.


Plans for 2022 also include a human capital strategy that enriches the current workforce by attracting talent, being a flexible organization in the face of growing and unexpected challenges, and instituting new hiring incentives to inspire candidates. and new diversity inclusion and equity initiatives.

“We’re really going to focus on the workforce experience,” Pringle said. “How does it feel to be on the AFRL bench, and what can we do to improve their work and work experience? So we’re going to measure that, get feedback, and address it in different ways. We know that to innovate, we need a diverse and innovative workforce.


In addition to its annual awards and fellowship ceremonies, the lab will also try to “inspire” its staff again with what Pringle says is one of its favorite annual events. Inspired by TED talks, AFRL Inspire invites employees to submit stories about their challenges and successes and, if chosen, to tell their stories to an audience about how they tackled, overcame and resolved those challenges.


“It’s really exciting for the rest of the workforce to see that it’s hard work, but we’re getting through it and other people are taking on their own challenges. And so, it’s really a great event to build camaraderie. It also helps us learn. »


“I’m so proud to be part of the AFRL,” Pringle said. “We may have bold and risky plans and goals in human capital and digital and developing new science and technology in new areas, but we really don’t know what’s going to happen this year. And the good news is that our workforce is ready and inspired, and I know it’s already on track.


For those interested in listening to the full episode, this Lab Life podcast is available on multiple platforms or listen below.


Stream or download from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website at https://www.dvidshub.net/search?q=lab+life+episode+61&view=grid


Stream via the Air Force Materiel Command mobile app on AF Connect


Lab Life podcasts on Apple are available here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1455263736


Listen on Stitcher by visiting: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/air-force-materiel-command/lab-life


Be sure to follow AFRL on social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube @afresearchlab.



About the AFRL


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the principal scientific research and development center of the Department of the Air Force. The AFRL plays a critical role in the discovery, development and integration of affordable combat technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a staff of more than 11,000 people in nine technology areas and 40 other operations around the world, AFRL offers a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from basic research to advanced research and technology development. For more information visit: www.afresearchlab.com.



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