Lon Pringle Named Director of GTRI's Signature Technology Laboratory

Published: June 3, 2008

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Lon Pringle, a long-time research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), has been appointed director of GTRI's Signature Technology Laboratory (STL), succeeding John Meadors.

Pringle, formerly STL's chief scientist, brings to his new assignment two decades of GTRI experience and a clear sense of enthusiasm about the lab's work.

"Being chief scientist of this lab was the most exciting time in my career," he said. "I got to interact with many people, and understand how different projects fit together. That's helping me now, as director, to formulate new research approaches we can look to for the future."

Former director Meadors, now retired, will remain involved with the lab part-time as needed. He will continue to work on projects in which he is already heavily involved.

Pringle emphasizes that he doesn't envision major changes in STL's basic operation. That's because the lab's work - centered largely on signal processing, the electromagnetic properties of materials and apertures, and secure Internet data transfer - is progressing well.

"We're currently experiencing an upswing in growth, and it would make little sense to shake things up a lot," he said.

Nevertheless, he adds, STL is due for a few adjustments in research emphasis and organization. Like GTRI as a whole, STL focuses on contract research and needs to keep up with sponsors' priorities, which makes periodic reorganization beneficial.

To enhance growth, Pringle says, STL will increase emphasis in two areas. One is a research area that goes way back at STL - development and analysis of meta-materials.

"Over time our lab has shifted away from that emphasis, and we're going to try to swing back and do more of that work," he said. "We're the major materials group at GTRI, and we want to retain that business -- so that will be a renewed emphasis for us."

Another new STL focus will involve bringing projects to higher levels of integration. Pringle explains that over the past decade or so, STL has progressed from producing mostly paper studies to developing increasingly complex prototypes.

Now the lab will emphasize the next step -- integrating prototypes into larger systems that can then be tested. This type of advanced integration might involve systems developed by other GTRI labs as well as those developed by major defense contractors.

The new STL director earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1977, and he received a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of South Carolina in 1988. He joined GTRI in 1988 and became a principal research scientist in 2000.

Pringle lives in Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood with his wife, Lisa, and his three children, Katie, 12; Madison 10, and James, 6. His hobbies include biking and running, and he is also an avid operagoer - an interest that works out well for the Pringle family since Lisa is a member of the Atlanta Opera Chorus.

Though STL's 110 or so employees will see few changes beyond prototype integration and renewed materials emphasis, the lab will remain poised for continued growth, Pringle says. He points out that STL's organizational chart reveals a large number of small divisions; in other words, many smaller groups of researchers.

"That kind of organization emphasizes cross-coupling, and it encourages divisions to reach out to other groups whenever it's necessary to accomplish a project," Pringle says. "It's an approach that has worked for us in the past, and it will help us to stay primed for future growth."