AFRL team selected for innovation award

  • Published
  • By Gina Marie Giardina
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

A team of Air Force Research Laboratory scientists and engineers has been selected for a 2019 Defense Innovation Award for its portable door-lock technology, a set of solutions designed to secure or barricade most door styles in the event of an active-shooter situation.

Members of the team, all with AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, include Dr. John McIntire, team lead and research psychologist; Matt Srnoyachki, mechanical engineer; Jason Sopko, patent attorney and door-lock engineer; and Adam Adducchio, electrical engineer.

“This award is really important for my team … as recognition of the amazing technology we’ve been developing,” McIntire said. “We’ve been hard at work to mature this technology so it can transition out of the labs and into the real world where it can hopefully help people and maybe even save lives.”

According to McIntire, these door locks are designed to be portable, strong, quick to deploy and infrastructure-free with no permanent installation needed. They are also designed to fit both right and left-handed doors, for both in-swinging and out-swinging doors.

The team has passed out about a dozen locks to security personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and has also tested the devices in schools during their active-shooter drills.

“We’ve worked closely with a local elementary and middle school as we developed and tested our systems,” he said. “The teachers, staff and administrators gave us real-time user feedback, and we took this back to the lab to improve upon some of our solutions.”

McIntire’s team has been working on the development of door-lock technology since 2015.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were 117 active-shooter incidents which resulted in 298 deaths and thousands wounded, according to FBI documents. In 2017 alone, there were 729 casualties, wounded and killed. So far in 2019, at the time of this article's release, there have been eight active shooter incidents, including a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, resulting in 10 deaths, to include the perpetrator. The Dayton shooting in the Oregon District is approximately eight miles from Wright-Patterson AFB and AFRL headquarters.

“There are very few ways unarmed people can physically protect themselves in the case of an active shooting,” McIntire explained. “We hope this technology can provide a provably effective method of bystander or potential victim protection.”

McIntire went on to explain that the portable locks can also provide personal safety or security apart from just active-shooter incidents.

“These locks can also be used to further secure hotel rooms during travel, bathrooms for security and privacy (and) dorms or apartments for an extra layer of protection that cannot be unlocked from the outside,” he said.

The team designed the locks to be useful for a variety of security and safety applications, McIntire explained.

“The portability that we’ve purposefully designed into the locks means they can be easily stowed in pockets, purses, backpacks or luggage for peace of mind during everyday life.”

The team will be presented with the award during the Defense TechConnect Fall Summit & Expo Oct. 8-10 in National Harbor, Maryland.