Smith Named technical assistant to ARL's chief scientist

May 18, 2015

Gabriel Smith is the technical assistant to the ARL Chief Scientist in the Office of the Director who will be assisting Dr. Joseph Mait and Dr. Alma Wickenden with day-to-day operations of science and technology portfolio management.

Smith was selected last month for the one year detail that will continue until May 2016.

He said he is interested in seeing and understanding what happens across the organization from a broader view. He expects to be working on planning for and implementing science and technology processes like the Director's Strategic and Research Initiatives and the Technical Advisory Board assessment.

"This is an exciting opportunity to gain a new understanding, perspective, and appreciation on the inner workings of ARL," Smith said. "I'm happy and honored to have the chance to help influence on the future direction of the laboratory."

He has been in Micro-electromechanical systems or MEMS engineering since a "fork in the road" decision he made in college. He had a choice between either a job using MEMs to design torpedo fuzes for the Navy or another internship designing rollercoasters. He took on the MEMs challenge with the Navy and continued on with similar MEMS fuzing with the Army ARDEC in 2004, Smith said.

Smith has spent the last six years of his career working with both the PiezoMEMs and Sensors and Bio-Inspired Controls teams within the Sensors and Electronic Devices Directorate.

His proudest moment came in 2011 when he was working on a traveling wave motor, a DARPA project that allowed him to collaborate with his UMD graduate advisor, Prof. Don DeVoe.

"We went through the design and fabrication process and when we saw the motor rotate, it was irrefutable proof that we had planned effectively," he said. "At less than 3 mm^3, we had demonstrated the smallest traveling wave motor ever. People had been trying to do this at MEMS scale for over ten years. It was experience combined with the access to the resources at ARL, the PiezoMEMs team and the work of those who came before us that led to a very exciting moment."

Smith said it was a difficult decision to leave the team but ultimately, "I felt like coming up here would give me a new perspective on the operations of the laboratory that I could take back."

Smith received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Maryland in 1999 and 2002 respectively.

His research has been recognized in 20 publications, including the first authorship of an invited feature review article on PiezoMEMS technology in the Journal of American Ceramic Society 2012. He has 11 patents, including a sole authorship patent on a fuze impact sensor that has been demonstrated commercially on the battlefield in the XM-25 airburst weapon system. His most notable awards include the Army Research and Development Achievement Award in 2006 and the ARL DRI Director's Choice Award in 2011.

Smith also serves on the Mid Atlantic Micro and Nano Alliance Steering Committee and the DoD Working Group on Inertial Measurement Units and Alternative Navigation.

"It is nice to be able to see your name on papers, patents and awards," Smith said. "It is a validation, but I don't think recognition should be the ultimate goal."

His advice for others going down a similar path is as a whole if you focus on doing good work and utilizing your time and talents to make a contribution to the mission, acknowledgements will come as a consequence.

"One of the main things I hope to bring to the new position is a recent perspective of laboratory life, both the positives and the negatives," Smith said. "I hope to convey the issues and be a part of solutions that benefit the entire laboratory."


Last Update / Reviewed: May 18, 2015