Dr. Mel Kruer Receives Presidential Rank Award
For Meritorious Senior Professionals

4/3/2008 - 42-08r
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Dr. Mel Kruer, a senior scientist in the Optical Sciences Division (OSD) at the Naval Research Laboratory, is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Professionals. Dr. Kruer is recognized for "his critical technical leadership necessary to develop advanced visible and infrared imaging sensor technologies and transition them into deployed Department of Defense (DoD) systems."

Annually, the President recognizes a small group of career Senior Executives with the President's Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Winners of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

According to the award nomination, "Dr. Kruer spearheaded the revolution of the Navy's imaging reconnaissance systems from the old era of photographic film and wet chemical developing to the new age of electronic imaging and digital signal processing. His performance has consistently shown that his primary interest is not only developing new technology, but also transitioning it to the fleet. Dr. Kruer has been recognized nationally and internationally as a major contributor to and leader in advanced staring infrared detector arrays and advanced military electro-optical sensors."

Dr. Kruer joined NRL in 1971 as a research physicist in the OSD working on the problem of optical countermeasures and performed pioneering research on the effects of laser-induced damage in optical infrared detectors and sensor systems. His spectroscopy experience was applied to the development of new solid state lasers using erbium in crystal hosts for midwave infrared and praseodymium for blue-green wavelength solid state lasers. Dr. Kruer became head of the Sensor Technology Section in 1980, executing and directing the Navy Focal Plane Array Development program and the Fly's Eye program that developed a new two color infrared approach to airborne missile warning. His infrared array development efforts were directed toward mid-wave and multi-color staring arrays at a time when other services efforts were directed toward scanning long-wave infrared arrays. From 1981 to 1993, he monitored contracts to develop a staring midwave focal plane array that based on calculated performance would significantly improve the capability of the Sidewinder series of anti-air missile seekers. The prototype arrays were delivered to China Lake for suitability testing and the AIM-9X now uses a staring midwave array. Dr. Kruer also expanded the section's capabilities to become the lead DoD laboratory for evaluating developmental infrared focal plane arrays and for developing multi-color infrared staring arrays and associated signal processing techniques. His publications include nonuniformity correction algorithms that correct for both offset and gain using scene based adaptive techniques, the use of color in the infrared to improve target detection, discrimination and identification, and techniques for color visualization and color constancy.

Beginning in 1994, he undertook research on new reconnaissance camera and real-time display capabilities that have placed NRL in the forefront of tactical electro-optical reconnaissance research and development. He was the technical lead of the NRL team that designed, developed, and integrated the TARPS-CD reconnaissance pod system for F-14 and guided it through Fallon testing that was followed by deployments on the USS John F. Kennedy, USS Harry S. Truman, and USS John C. Stennis carriers. He was the technical lead for the SHARP prototype effort that developed and demonstrated for Navy F-18s a real-time, day-night reconnaissance capability that uses large area staring visible and infrared arrays. He established the need to develop a modular system with controlled interfaces, standardized JPEG compression, and NITF image format. This rapid prototype effort developed in two years (1999-2001) a pod system that was demonstrated with F-18 flights over the Pentagon with real-time datalinking to displays at the north parking lot. This prototype was successfully transitioned to the Naval Air Systems Command enabling deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. He has also worked on a new change detection capability that initially operated on carriers in March 2006. Dr. Kruer was appointed as Senior Scientist for electro-optical imaging sensors in November 2002.

Dr. Kruer's recent efforts include the development of a nighttime wide area persistent surveillance system (WAPSS) to detect activity associated with the placement of IEDs. He is also working a new compact hyperspectral sensor capability implemented in a ball gimbal with associated compact real-time signal processors and operator interfaces. This program is scheduled to deliver a rapid prototype hyperspectral gimbal sensor to the intelligence community in about 18 months. These activities support the Global War on Terror, Improved Combat Capability, and Rapid Technology Insertion for Future Challenges, and have direct application to homeland security.

Dr. Kruer received his B.A. degree (Magna Cum Laude) in physics from Bellarmine University in 1964. He received his M.S. and PhD from Catholic University in 1970 and 1971 respectively. At Catholic University, he performed his thesis work under Professor Robert W. Gammon studying the internal motions of materials near critical phase transitions using techniques of laser light scattering spectroscopy.

Dr. Kruer has been an author of over 200 publications and NRL formal reports and has eleven patents. He has served for 15 years as the Navy lead on the program committee for the Detector Specialty subgroup of the Military Sensing Symposia (Formerly IRIS).

Dr. Kruer's awards include the NRL Award of Merit for Group Achievement (Fly's Eye Two-color Infrared Missile Warning Program) 1990; Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award (Staring Midwave Infrared Arrays) 1998; NRL Award of Merit for Group Achievement (F-14 TARPS-CD Reconnaissance Pentagon Demonstration) 1998; Technology Transfer Award (cameras, ground display stations and data compression for tactical reconnaissance) 1998; five Alan Berman Publication Awards; Chief of Naval Research Dr Arthur E. Bisson Prize (Electro-Optical and Infrared Focal Plane Technology Development) 2002; and the NRL Award of Merit for Group Achievement (F-18 SHARP Reconnaissance Rapid Response Team) 2006.

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