Dr. William A. LaPlante is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), Washington, D.C. He is the Air Force’s Service Acquisition Executive, responsible for all Air Force research, development and acquisition activities. Dr. LaPlante oversees a research and development, test, production and modernization program portfolio of over $32 billion annually. He is also responsible for development and execution of policies and procedures in support of the operation and improvement of the Air Force's acquisition system.
Dr. LaPlante has more than 29 years of experience in defense technology including positions at the MITRE Corporation and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has also served on the Defense Science Board (DSB), U.S. Strategic Command Senior Advisory Group and Naval Research Advisory Committee. He has also taught as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Catholic University of America.
Prior to entering public service in 2013, Dr. LaPlante was the Missile Defense Portfolio Director for the MITRE Corporation. In this role, Dr. LaPlante led a technical team providing analytic and system engineering expertise across the Missile Defense Agency portfolio of ballistic missile defense systems. Previously, he was the Department Head for Global Engagement at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) where he was responsible for all of APL’s work supporting offensive military capabilities. Dr. LaPlante was a member of APL’s Executive Council and served on many other Laboratory leadership initiatives. His earlier APL work included Associate Department Head of the National Security Technology Department and Program Area Manager for the Strategic Submarine Security Program.
Dr. LaPlante has also served on numerous prestigious scientific boards. He was appointed to the Defense Science Board (DSB) in 2010 where he co-chaired a study on Enhancing the Adaptability of U.S. Military Forces and participated in studies on technology and innovation enablers, missile defense, cyber resiliency and contractor logistics. Dr. LaPlante chaired a Commander, USSTRATCOM Strategic Advisory Group study on nuclear planning factors and participated in various studies sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the Naval Research Advisory Committee, USSTRATCOM and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics).
1985 Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics, University of Illinois
1988 Master of Science degree in applied physics, Johns Hopkins University
1998 Doctorate in mechanical engineering, Catholic University of America
1. 1985, Began career at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
2. 1993 - 1998, Chief Scientist and Technical Director for several large at-sea submarine security experiments, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
3. 1998 - 2001, Program Area Manager for the Strategic Submarine (SSBN) Security Program, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
4. 2001 - 2003, Business Area Executive for Undersea Warfare and Associate Department Head, National Security Technology Department (Undersea Warfare, Homeland Security and Biomedicine), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
5. 2003 - 2011, Department Head, Global Engagement Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
6. 2011 - 2013, Missile Defense Portfolio Director, MITRE Corporation, McLean, Va.
7. 2013 - 2014, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), Washington, D.C.
8. 2014 - present, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), Washington, D.C.
Defense Science Board Member
USSTRATCOM Strategic Advisory Group Member
Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Catholic University of America
(Current as of March 2014)