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Brooks Named Director of Electronic Systems Lab at GTRI

Published: January 18, 2011


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The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has named Joe Brooks director of the Electronic Systems Laboratory (ELSYS). Brooks served as interim director following the retirement of former director Terry Tibbitts at the end of November 2010.

Brooks takes the helm of a lab that has conducted more than $50 million in research annually and nearly doubled in size during the last five years, with nearly 400 engineers, students, and support staff. ELSYS is known primarily for its projects involving national security, specifically in the area of electronic defense. The lab’s highly regarded software and hardware modifications on radar warning receivers (RWR), which alert military pilots of hostile enemy radar, protect many U.S. and allied aircraft. ELSYS also integrates RWR and other defensive systems for DOD aircraft to improve aircrew situational awareness.

Also a part of ELSYS, the Accessibility Evaluation Facility within the Human Systems Engineering branch provides product accessibility testing for The Arthritis Foundation and comparable organizations in Canada and Australia. The branch also assists U.S. government agencies in aircraft and ship crew station design. ELSYS workplace safety experts provide consulting services across the state of Georgia and training nationwide as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration Training Institute for the U.S. Department of Labor.

ELSYS has provided major support to several new GTRI initiatives, such as the newly launched Cyber Technology and Information Security Laboratory, cross-lab systems engineering programs and unmanned systems research.

“The lab has seen a lot of growth over the last three years—adding nearly a hundred new people,” Brooks said. “We briefly hit 400 employees, before transferring a number of our researchers and chief engineer to GTRI’s newly established Cyber Lab. We need to continue to build our young staff, so career development will be a major focus moving forward.”

Brooks said the lab’s foundation is strong. “We’re not planning any dramatic changes,” he said. “We have historically done a lot of work for the Air Force, but we have grown our Army business substantially over the last couple of years. We are also providing more support to the Navy and a number of U.S. allies.”

Brooks says he sees ELSYS making more inroads into industry, building upon the Human Systems Integration group and its work with OSHA and The Arthritis Foundation. “We are doing some strategic hiring in the health care area, which will align closely with our Human Systems Engineering strength,” he said. “The other divisions will continue their strong commitment to solving tough problems for the Department of Defense.”

Brooks joined GTRI as a research engineer I in 1982, after receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech and working as a student assistant at GTRI. While working at GTRI full time, he earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering, also from Georgia Tech. “For more than 28 years I have worked in ELSYS or some derivative of ELSYS, which was originally known as the Systems Engineering Lab,” he said.

Brooks pointed to the strong division and lab leadership put in place by former director Tibbitts. “I am fortunate to have Lee Simonetta continuing as associate lab director and to have strong support from Bob Beasley, who leads our Air National Guard Program Office.”

Throughout his entire GTRI career, Brooks has worked alongside Tibbitts. “I’ve known Terry the whole time I’ve been here,” he said. “I’m proud of what we in ELSYS have accomplished. We will add to the foundations built by Terry and others before him, and continue this dynamic research laboratory’s dominance in its current and future endeavors.”