Thomas M. McNamara Jr. of Ellicott City, Md., a program area manager of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, has been hired as president and chief executive officer of the newly established Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation, announced Robert Walters, vice president for research at Virginia Tech.

The Applied Research Corporation was established by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors in March 2010 with the mission to foster applied research, development, and management of large-scale contract research projects. "It will extend the university’s fundamental research enterprise to applied, translational, and commercialization projects," said Walters.

"McNamara is charged with leading the Applied Research Corporation to become an agile and respected university affiliated applied research enterprise with an entrepreneurial culture that will deliver products and innovative solutions ready for commercialization to meet a range of opportunities and national challenges," said Walters.

Whereas the university's research focus is basic research funded by grants with the research embedded in the academic mission and managed by faculty members, the Applied Research Corporation's focus is applied research funded by contracts with time and materials agreements carried out by teams with experienced project managers, said Walters. For example, research opportunities and funding exist in the areas of defense, national security, health information technology, patient-centered health care, and global connectivity, he said.

McNamara's appointment with the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation was effective Jan. 3. He will be based in the Virginia Tech Research CenterArlington when it opens in June and in the 1101 King Street, Alexandria, facility in the meantime.

At the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, McNamara headed the strategic posture office from 2003 until 2007, creating a new laboratory for work with the U.S. Strategic Command and establishing that lab's first $50 million contract with the command and the U.S. Air Force. He became program area manager in 2007, establishing a new program to work with the Office of Secretary of Defense, and exceeded $15 million per year within the three years and exceeded all quality, technical, and financial objectives for the program area.

The Applied Physics Laboratory is a not-for-profit center for engineering, research, and development. Organized in 1942, it reports a diversified portfolio of more than 600 programs, primarily sponsored by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and National Security Agency, with an annual funding level of about $980 million. "The Applied Physics Laboratory is largely responsible for Johns Hopkins' year-after-year placement as the highest ranked research institution by the National Science Foundation," Walters pointed out.

McNamara was also a program manager for the Applied Physics Laboratory from 1991 to 1998, and an engineer at the lab from 1983 to 1991, and worked for private industry in the interim. He earned his bachelor of science in ocean engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1979 and his master of science in technical management from Johns Hopkins in 1995.

About the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation

The mission of the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation is to extend the impact of Virginia Tech’s research and development expertise through developing, managing, and performing applied research under contract with government and private sector clients, thereby supporting innovative applications of science and technology and technical assistance to enhance global competitiveness. Projects will include intelligence, cyber products, national security, energy, and health. While funded and operated as a standalone nonprofit corporation, it will collaborate closely with Virginia Tech in technical areas as appropriate to leverage the capabilities and expertise of the university. 

The corporation is governed by a board of directors representing the university and industry. The CEO will report to the board of directors and will be responsible for establishing the strategic direction of the corporation consistent with the board’s direction and policy. The CEO will be responsible for start-up operations, and generating early stage revenue, will be responsible for identifying, recruiting, and managing project managers in research areas consistent with the organization’s strategic objectives, and will provide oversight of individual projects to ensure quality research, efficient operations, and desired financial results.

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