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Applied Physics Laboratory

Applied Physics Laboratory
JHU APL logo.png
Established 1942
Research type Unclassified/classified
Director Dr. Ralph Semmel
Staff 6000
Location Laurel, Maryland, U.S.
Operating agency
Johns Hopkins University
Website http://www.jhuapl.edu/

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), located in Howard County, Maryland, near Laurel and Columbia, is a not-for-profit, university-affiliated research center employing 6,000 people. APL is primarily a defense contractor. It serves as a technical resource for the Department of Defense, NASA, and other government agencies. The Lab is an engineering research and development organization rather than an academic division of Johns Hopkins University. Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering offers part-time graduate programs through its Engineering for Professionals program. Courses are taught at seven locations in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, including the APL Education Center.

APL was created in 1942 during World War II under the Office of Scientific Research and Development as part of the Government's effort to mobilize the nation's science and engineering expertise within its universities. Its founding director was Merle Anthony Tuve. The Laboratory succeeded in developing the variable-time proximity fuze that played a significant role in the Allied victory. In response to the fuze's success, the APL created the MK 57 gun director in 1944. Pleased with the APL's work, the Navy then tasked it with the mission to find a way to negate guided missile threats. From there on, the APL became very involved in wartime research. Expected to disband at the end of the war, APL instead became heavily involved in the development of guided missile technology for the Navy. At governmental request, the University continued to maintain the Laboratory as a public service.

APL was originally located in Silver Spring, Maryland in a used-car garage at the former Wolf Motor Company building at 8621 Georgia Avenue. APL moved to Laurel beginning in 1954, with the construction of a two million dollar building and a $700,000 wing expansion in 1956. The final staff transitioned to the new facility in 1975. Before moving to Laurel, APL also maintained the "Forest Grove Station", north of Silver Spring on Georgia Avenue near today's Forest Glen Metro, which included a hypersonic wind tunnel. The Forest Grove Station was vacated and torn down in 1963 and flight simulations were moved to Laurel.


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