AF chief scientist visits AFRL, receives service honor

  • Published
  • By Derek Hardin
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
Dr. Mica Endsley, the chief scientist of the Air Force, met with Air Force Research Laboratory leaders here May 5-7, reviewing key Air Force science and technology programs, and attending a preview of the technology displays AFRL will feature at the Department of Defense Lab Day event to be held May 14 in Washington, D.C.

Endsley praised the technologies she viewed, stating that AFRL's research and development is vital to Airmen. She added that AFRL is not just advancing revolutionary, responsive and relevant technologies, but creating technology that is focused on the warfighter.

"There's so much innovative research going on at AFRL, hitting a wide variety of areas that are important to the Air Force," Endsley said. "I saw everything from innovative new satellite technologies to wearables for our special ops forces to help them do things such as rapidly care for downed Soldiers. AFRL's gamechangers -- hypersonics, directed energy and autonomy -- are a very big deal for the force of the future."

Endsley was also the guest of honor at a ceremony celebrating her successful tenure with the Air Force. The AFRL commander, Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, presided over the event.

During her two years as the Air Force chief scientist, Endsley has promoted and developed Human Systems Integration (HSI) and situation-awareness research for Air Force applications. HSI is a process of effectively and affordably integrating human capabilities and limitations throughout the entire lifecycle of a system or project. It involves all Air Force personnel, including users, operators, maintainers, supporters and trainers involved with the system.

"I've been working a lot with folks here at AFRL, as well as the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, to see what we can do to boost research in HSI and make sure we're getting the knowledge and expertise into our developmental programs," Endsley said. "I feel very good about this as I leave this position."

As her visit to AFRL drew to a close, Endsley reflected on the AFRL's appeal as a workplace where young scientists and engineers can offer their research and development talents. She acknowledged competition for science and engineering graduate talent is intense and young people often think first of Silicon Valley and other private sector employment opportunities.

"If you're a young engineer just starting out, I think AFRL is a fantastic place to be because you really work on groundbreaking problems," Endsley said. "Anybody can go work on an app for a game, but that's not really impacting our society. It's not really impacting our quality of life. When I talk to the young engineers here at AFRL, they are really excited about what they're doing. It's not just because they like the technology, but because they know their work has fundamental value to our Airmen and the nation.

"Having that meaning and value in what you're doing is critical. I don't think anyone who comes to AFRL is going to have any doubts at all whether it was a good choice," she added.

Endsley said she enjoyed previewing the 26 Air Force technologies to be presented at DOD Lab Day. The event is open to Pentagon senior leaders, program sponsors and managers, members of Congress, and others.

Some of the technologies that will be displayed include: the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), which automatically takes control of a fighter aircraft to avoid impending ground collisions and which has already saved the lives of two pilots and F-16 Fighting Falcons; Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge (BATMAN), a family of capabilities that enhance warfighter performance, making battlefield Airmen lighter, smarter and more lethal; and Directed Energy and Electro-Optics for Space Superiority (DEEOSS), a "neighborhood watch" protection in space focused on detecting, tracking and characterizing objects in orbit.

"I think those who attend DOD Lab Day will gain quick appreciation for how well our precious science and technology investment is aligned with Air Force priorities," Endsley said.