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Diversity In Action

Johns Hopkins APL: promoting diversity and work/life balance

Multiple disciplines are in demand. Tech experience in a research environment is desirable; military and government experience have priority

Karen Greene, supervisor of diversity management and employee relations, seated, with tech recruiters Maria Schwartz and Bryant Garcia.The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL, Laurel, MD) is Johns Hopkins University’s not-for-profit engineering and R&D division. The lab was commissioned just four months after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; its mission was to develop an anti-aircraft proximity fuse to protect Navy ships from air attacks.

Today the lab is located on 399 acres just north of Washington, DC and houses more that 4,000 employees. Some 68 percent are engineers and scientists, working on the nation’s critical challenges in research and space science.

APL seeks engineers and scientists from many disciplines, including electrical, mechanical, software, biomed, nuclear, ocean and systems engineering. Backgrounds in physics, math, and chemical and biological sciences are also needed.

“We’re always looking for the best and the brightest in the engineering world so we do a fair amount of strategic hiring,” says Bryant Garcia, APL technical recruiter. “We will find positions for candidates with specific skills that are useful for our organization.”

Diversity is key to APL’s goal of becoming “the premier technological institution sought by government and valued by industry.” Technical recruiter Maria Schwartz notes that “We strive to have the programs, processes and work environment in place that allow us to attract and retain a creative and innovative staff.”

Karen Greene, supervisor of diversity management and employee relations, notes that diversity and work/life balance are taken seriously at APL. “We have several committees and groups in place that help us create a working environment that supports diversity of people and ideas,” she says. “We offer outlets where staff can express themselves, make connections, get things accomplished, or just have fun.”

Employees get support through affinity groups like the African American Culture Club, Hispanic Awareness Club, Asian American Culture Club and two women’s groups. The Diversity Working Group of senior leaders recommends policies and practices for professional staff development. It also works to recruit and retain members of underrepresented groups, making the staff aware of its disability accommodation process and providing an opportunity for staff to share their requirements confidentially.

Each year APL recognizes staff members who’ve made significant contributions to APL’s diversity efforts with a luncheon hosted by the director. It also regularly nominates employees for honors like the Black Engineer of the Year award.

Internships and mentoring programs are available to students. In 1974 APL helped start the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) program to encourage graduate education for minority populations. The lab also sponsors two or three graduate engineering Fellows each year. The program, with wide corporate support, has helped more than 2,100 students to get MS degrees in engineering or science.


APL Logo.


Headquarters: Laurel, MD
Employees: 4,300
Annual funding: $680 million
Business: Not-for-profit center for engineering, R&D

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