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January 18, 2022

Former Johns Hopkins APL Interim Director Hinman Dies at 86

Image of Gene Hinman

Gene Hinman served as an interim APL director from 1999 to 2000.

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

Eugene J. Hinman, a former interim director of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, died Jan. 3. He was 86.

Known for his ability to form and lead teams to tackle complex technical issues — and to personally jump in to help solve some of those problems — Hinman distinguished himself as a leader and visionary systems engineer over a 38-year APL career.

He joined the Laboratory in 1962 and worked on the design and performance evaluation of submarine control systems and passive sonar signal processing on submarines.

Hinman went on to lead a large branch of the Lab’s then-named Fleet Systems Department, where he oversaw major capability enhancements for the Standard Missile, Rolling Airframe Missile, Harpoon and Tomahawk weapon systems. In 1983, he was appointed assistant head, and later head, of the department, responsible for APL’s activity in air defense, strike warfare, and tactical, strategic and satellite communications engineering.

He moved to APL’s front office in 1992, with an appointment as assistant director for tactical systems, followed two years later by an appointment as assistant director for programs, which placed him over the entirety of the Laboratory’s technical work for the Department of Defense, NASA and other government sponsors.

In April 1999, Johns Hopkins President William Brody tapped Hinman to serve as the Laboratory’s interim director while the university conducted a nationwide search for a permanent head. Pledging to “keep things steady while we move ahead,” Hinman did much more than that, enjoying several successes during his eight-month term: NASA awarded APL the MESSENGER mission to Mercury; APL established its Office of Technology Transfer; and the Laboratory partnered with the Department of Transportation to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of the nation’s transportation systems. The APL-developed Area Air Defense Commander prototype was successfully used in the Nimble Shield war games, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided funding for an on-campus sled test facility.

When a new director, Richard Roca, took the helm in January 2000, Hinman returned to his position as the assistant director for programs until his retirement at the end of the year.

In 2002, Hinman was awarded the Navy Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Navy’s highest civilian honor, for “inspiring the APL team to strive for excellence” throughout nearly three decades of leadership during the development of critical Navy warfighting capabilities.

“Gene Hinman was widely respected for his natural ability with both systems technology and the management of staff who worked with it,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “His contributions to the Laboratory will be remembered for many years to come.”

A 1958 graduate of St. John Fisher College, Hinman earned a second bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from the University of Detroit, followed by a master’s in the same field from the University of Illinois.

Hinman is preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, and his sister, Aleen. He is survived by his sons, Michael and David (Paula); his daughter, Kathleen; and his grandsons, Jefferson and Daniel.

Media contact: Michael Buckley, 240-228-7536,

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