To help secure victory in World War II, America mobilized its scientific brainpower to provide advanced technology solutions to wartime defense problems. Laboratories such as APL and its peers were developed through partnerships between the government and America's best research and development universities. Organized through The Johns Hopkins University, the Applied Physics Laboratory was assigned the task of finding a more effective way for ships to defend themselves against enemy air attacks. From March 1942 to the war's end, APL designed, built, and tested a proximity fuze that significantly increased the effectiveness of anti-aircraft shells. The product of that intense 3.5-year development effort was later judged to be one of the three most valuable technology developments of the war (along with the atomic bomb and radar).
On the basis of that successful collaboration, the government, Johns Hopkins, and APL made a commitment to continue their strategic relationship, a partnership that has endured for more than 6 decades. Today, APL's work continues to reflect the original mission it took on: serving as a technical and scientific resource to meet the nation's most critical challenges and solve complex problems.