Air Force Research Lab works in the interest of the U.S.
AFRL's nine technology directorates will hire a lot of technical people this year with openings in many areas,
says the lab's management analyst
Scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) are developing advanced technologies to further the interests of the U.S. The lab seeks highly skilled, outside-the-box thinkers to develop cutting-edge national security technology, says Bryan Stevens, management analyst.
The lab's mission is to lead in the discovery, development and integration of affordable war fighting technologies. Of its staff of more than 10,300, nearly 6,400 are scientists and engineers, Stevens says. Their many research areas include alternative biofuels; advanced adaptive turbine engines; hypersonic propulsion; multi-layer sensing; micro-aerial vehicles; self-healing structures; nano-scale technologies; cyber defense and automated control of remotely piloted aircraft in a complex airspace.
AFRL HQ is at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH. The lab has nine technology directorates: air vehicles; directed energy; information, materials and manufacturing; munitions; propulsion; sensors and space vehicles, plus the 711th Human Performance Wing. AFRL also oversees the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, VA. There are another forty-one lab sites worldwide with exciting work going on at each one.
At the information directorate in Rome, NY researchers used Sony PlayStation 3 components to create a "world-class supercomputer on the cheap" and are developing new cyber technologies to defend Air Force networks. At the U.S. Air Force Aerospace School of Medicine researchers study aerospace physiology factors and altitude impairment to develop ways to keep pilots from blacking out in flight.
Recent military base realignment and closure mission-consolidation decisions mean that AFRL is hiring a lot of technical people in 2011, Stevens says, with openings in a "wide variety" of areas.
Disciplines include nanotechnology, aerospace and mechanical engineering. Researchers figure out new methods of flight, studying the secrets of mosquitoes and hummingbirds, Stevens says. On the materials manufacturing side, researchers are figuring out how to blend nano-scale biotechnologies with materials, to let an aircraft self-identify a crack and heal itself the way a clam heals a crack in its shell.
Computer engineers develop parts of the projects. Techies with degrees in math, aerospace, bioscience, bioengineering, biotechnology, chemistry, EE, physical science and IE are also needed.
The lab brings in students for a temporary employment program similar to a co-op or internship. Grads with an MS or above in a STEM discipline can apply to a program called "scientific and engineering professionals with advanced degrees;" AFRL jobs for students and pros are posted on usajobs.gov, Stevens notes.
For research jobs in science and engineering, applicants must have degrees in the appropriate area and be actually working in the area. All candidates must be U.S. citizens able to qualify for security clearances. "Currently, within our civilian scientist and engineer workforce, 43 percent have MS degrees, 30 percent PhDs, and 27 percent BS degrees," Stevens notes.
The lab's recruiters go to events like the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement awards, conferences run by SHPE, SWE and NSBE, and the Black Engineer of the Year awards. They also visit HBCUs; in fact, each technical directorate at the lab targets a specific HBCU. The lab recruits at Prairie View A&M, the University of Puerto Rico-MayagŁez, Grambling State University, Tennessee State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T, Florida A&M, Tuskegee and all HBCUs affiliated with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
"We feel that the more that we invest in the diversity of our workforce, the more we'll see diversity in ideas that may help us solve the very complex problems the Air Force faces," Stevens says.
AFRL has a diversity council made up of members from across the lab. The council has a number of subcommittees that discuss everything from marketing and branding to summer internships and educational outreach.
Employees benefit from perks at the military installations their labs are associated with. The lab also has a military-leave-friendly policy for employees still serving in the National Guard or military reserves who are recalled to active duty or need time for training.
AFRL offers plenty of opportunities for people to engage in local and national volunteer projects and outreach. The lab is a sponsor of the Lego League robotics competition, for example; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base scientists and engineers work as judges and set up the competition.
The lab also has a program for universities, sponsoring student teams that compete in tackling real-world problems. The program lets the lab identify potential interns and hires, of course; it also introduces the students to real-life Air Force issues, and gives them a chance to help meet the lab's challenges.
Air Force Research Lab
||Wright-Patterson Air Force
Base, near Dayton, OH
||More than 10,300
||Responsible for the Air
Force science and
technology budget of
nearly $2 billion
|| Full-spectrum laboratory
that plans and executes a science and
technology program for the Air Force