Two men working with technology


APL solves complex research, engineering, and analytical problems that present critical challenges to our nation. As the nation’s largest university affiliated research center, we provide U.S. government agencies with deep expertise in specialized fields to support national priorities and technology development programs. We also serve as independent trusted technical agents to the government, providing continuity for highly complex, multigenerational technology development systems.

As a university affiliated research center (UARC), we maintain robust engineering and research and development expertise in eight core competencies to meet the needs of our government sponsors. Our core competencies are:

  • Strategic systems test and evaluation
  • Submarine security and survivability
  • Space science and engineering
  • Combat systems and guided missiles
  • Air and missile defense and power projection
  • Information technology (C4ISR/IO)
  • Simulation, modeling, and operations analysis
  • Mission-related research, development, test, and evaluation
Critical Contributions to Critical Challenges

Our scientists, engineers, and analysts serve as trusted advisors and technical experts to the government, ensuring the reliability of complex technologies that safeguard our nation’s security and advance the frontiers of space. We also maintain independent research and development programs that pioneer and explore emerging technologies and concepts to address future national priorities.

Learn more about how APL is delivering critical contributions critical challenges.

The complex challenges of today’s world demand new technologies that can keep us safer and take us farther, and APL’s engineers and scientists are meeting that demand head-on. From the unforgiving, harsh environment of outer space to the evolving new domain of mixed reality, APL is pioneering solutions in both the real and digital worlds to tackle critical national challenges.

To meet these challenges and maintain the nation’s defensive edge, APL calls upon its deep expertise in a number of technical domains, both cutting-edge and foundational, provided by staff members across the Lab.

  • Image of Boundary Layer Transition (BOLT) flight hardware


  • Astrobiology and planetary science

    Astrobiology and Planetary Science

    Studying the composition, dynamics, and chemistry of bodies in the solar system and beyond to explore planet formation, evolution, and habitability.

  • Photo of space

    Astrophysics and Exoplanets

    Developing new observational strategies and analytical techniques to help unravel the mysteries of the stars, galaxy, and universe.

  • Peter Thielen, a molecular biologist in Johns Hopkins APL’s Research and Exploratory Development Department, works to sequence SARS-CoV-2 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in early March 2020.  Credit: Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman


  • Cislunar space (Credit: Johns Hopkins APL)

    Cislunar Science and Technology

    APL is making critical contributions to the development of cislunar infrastructure to ensure our nation’s security interests are protected, support development of a sustainable cislunar presence, and advance pioneering science.

  • Capt. Brandon Johnson, Lt. Matt Ress, and Lt. Jennifer Leo inside Johns Hopkins APL's Multi-Mission Operations Center

    Command and Control Systems

  • Water treatment plant

    Critical Infrastructure Protection

  • LIVE Lab

    Cyber-Physical Security

  • U.S. Navy Operations Specialist 2nd Class Olivia Quinci, from San Diego, California, monitors aircraft aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill

    Display Systems

  • Mechanical engineering

    Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

    We excel in electrical and mechanical engineering, mechatronics, electronics packaging, systems integration, and multiscale modeling.

  • Advanced Electrical Fabrication Laboratory

    Electronics Design and Fabrication

    We provide an integrated capability to build hardware ranging from quick-turn prototypes to fully qualified spaceflight assemblies and from nanoscales up to fully integrated electronic packages for deployment on land, undersea, and on space systems.

  • Guidance System Evaluation Laboratory

    Guidance, Navigation, and Control Systems and Technologies

  • Conceptual illustration of cybersecurity and data privacy

    Information Systems

  • Additive manufacturing

    Mechanical Fabrication

    Our science-based manufacturing and prototyping facility provides full-spectrum support, from conceptual R&D through configured hardware production.

  • Visualization of big data

    Modeling and Simulation