REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- The Department of the Army places such a priority on directed energy that it allotted one of its 36 scientific and professional authorizations to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command to serve as a senior research scientist focused on directed energy applications.
Dr. Craig A. Robin was appointed as a senior scientific professional for this position in August. He officially assumed his new duties with USASMDC/ARSTRAT Oct. 4 at the Von Braun III auditorium.
'I am excited. Having previously worked in the government, I recognized the significance of the position,' Robin said. 'There's a long legacy of laser research at Redstone Arsenal and at SMDC, and to be a part of that I think is really exciting.'
In his new position, which falls within the command's Technical Center, he acts as the technical adviser and coordinator for the development, implementation, and oversight of the command's high energy laser programs and other directed energy initiatives. Robin will be responsible for the overview, execution and coordination of programs in basic research, exploratory development, advanced development and system integration in the technical and functional areas of directed energy weapons.
'Mr. (Thomas) Webber (SMDC Technical Center director) has identified a vision for where he thinks this position should go, and I have two hats,' Robin said. 'One is to be the subject matter expert for directed energy for the Army -- to be an Army asset. The other, relative to SMDC, is to help shape and develop our basic research efforts to support programs like (High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator) once they transition so we have a workforce that is developed into subject matter experts to support the technology as it transitions to the program executive offices and to plan for the next generation of technology for the Warfighter.'
Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, SMDC commanding general, said that many of the federal government's most renowned scientists and engineers serve in senior scientific professional positions.
'This position involves performance of high-level research and development of future capabilities for our Army,' Dickinson said. 'This is a significant day for our organization because the Army recognizes the importance of directed energy by allocating a senior scientific professional position to our command... SMDC is leading the Army, as a whole, in directed energy. We are doing the work, but having Craig's experience will help us go farther faster.'
Robin discussed his plans for his first 180 days in the new position.
'SMDC is doing a lot of work. The high energy laser group is really active from basic research up to more mature technology demonstrations,' Robin said. 'It's been a full time-job thus far just to talk to the people and see what we're doing. If the goal is to be strategic about what we're going to do in the future, then I need to understand what we're doing now, and I also need to understand what the Warfighter needs. It's a lot of learning and taking in information right now.'
There are 470 senior scientific professional positions within the federal government, and Robin is among the youngest at Redstone Arsenal.
'In the government oftentimes your rank is associated with your experience, essentially your time in,' Robin said. 'I understand that respect is earned, not given. I am fortunate that the leadership here chose to judge me and hire me based on the skills and qualities that I possess and not relegate me based on the experience that I may lack. What I'd like to say to the command is judge me by my work ethic and my performance and results.'
Robin previously worked as a research scientist with Lockheed Martin Laser and Sensor Systems in Bothell, Washington, from October 2013 to August 2017. Before that, he worked as a research physicist with the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from February 2006 to October 2013.
He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Pacific University in Oregon in 2003, a Master in Science in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2009, and his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico in 2011.
Robin is a member of the Directed Energy Professional Society, the Optical Society of America and the International Society for Optics and Photonics.
Robin said he has been busy completing training, meeting SMDC's employees, and understanding where the technology is and where it is headed.
'Everyone has been very friendly. This building feels like a family, and I am excited to be a part of that,' Robin said. 'I'm excited for the technology -- I'm passionate about this work, passionate about directed energy. The group of people I've met here so far have the commitment to push this technology to the Warfighter, and I'm excited to be a part of that. I thank everyone for being so welcoming.'