Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers Recognizes Johns Hopkins APL Staff Members

Wed, 01/24/2024 - 09:58
Ashley Hume

Two staff members from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, have received awards from the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE).

Engineer/Scientist of the Year

Tao Jen, who leads the Critical Infrastructure Protection Group in APL’s Asymmetric Operations Sector, was named SASE’s Engineer/Scientist of the Year (Government). A recognized authority on networking technologies, communications systems and infrastructure cybersecurity, Jen leads a team of 60 engineers and scientists designing crucial technologies and systems to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.

His team recently worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and industry partners to design collision avoidance systems for crewed and uncrewed aircraft of all sizes. It also developed engineering systems for complex autonomous operations of uncrewed aircraft and traffic management systems in low-altitude and urban locations. The resulting system was officially adopted as the international collision avoidance standard and will replace legacy systems as they are retired.

“Thanks to these innovations and related technologies designed by Tao and his team, our national airspace continues to operate safely and efficiently, and promises to do so long into the future,” said Charles Madison, managing executive of the Asymmetric Operations Sector.

Additionally, Jen led the formation of the Cyber-Physical Resilient Systems Solutions (CYPRESS) laboratory at APL, where he and his team create solutions for defense against adversarial threats to military and civilian infrastructure. Their innovations help to secure technology systems crucial to critical national infrastructure, such as power, water, transportation and communications, all of which are vital to the well-being of Americans and warfighters at home and abroad.

“When I immigrated with my parents to this country 40 years ago, I would never have imagined one day to be nominated, let alone to be selected for this wonderful honor,” said Jen. “This award is as much about the accomplishments of my wonderful colleagues at APL as it is about me.”

Promising Professional

Rubbel Kumar, program manager for air vehicle design and technologies in the Laboratory’s Force Projection Sector, received a SASE Promising Professional award, presented to professionals with two to 10 years of experience who demonstrate “tremendous potential for future contributions.”

Since beginning his career in 2014, Kumar has consistently championed initiatives to improve processes at APL. As an aerodynamicist, he developed innovative tools now used across the Laboratory to generate aerodynamic models. Then, as a section supervisor, he conceptualized and led the development of a multidisciplinary optimization and system design framework that incorporated many of those tools. The framework was used on seven programs within its first year of development and highlighted Kumar’s ability to set and execute a long-term vision.

After holding several technical leadership roles, Kumar became a project manager for air vehicle design and technologies. His leadership led to a significant change in program direction, saving the U.S. government $30 million.

As a program manager, he leads a diverse team of more than 40 technical staff members, as well as eight project managers and principal investigators who work on numerous projects. Kumar oversees the vision, sponsor engagement and business development for his portfolio, which focuses on transitioning science and technology efforts for the design of air vehicles.

Kumar is an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as well as a champion for the development of future engineers and leaders. He has done extensive work with FUSE, APL’s Employee Resource Group to advance DEI initiatives at the Laboratory. He also co-leads a leadership development program and has mentored several junior staff members and interns.

“Rubbel is making an impressive number of critical contributions to our sponsors, to APL and to the overall Laboratory community,” said Martin Sommerville, the Force Projection Sector’s managing executive. “His commitment to technical excellence, developing the next generation of engineers and leaders, and DEI has made him a high-performing leader who is very deserving of this award.”

“When I reflect upon all the talented and dedicated staff members with whom I have had the opportunity to collaborate during my time at APL, both from within and outside the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, I am honored to be recognized with the SASE Promising Professional award,” Kumar said. “I look forward to future opportunities to give back directly to that community.”

Jen and Kumar received their awards during a ceremony at the SASE National Convention and STEM Career Fair in Atlanta on Oct. 11.