AFMC Command News

National radiation electronics expert brings value to AFRL Space program

  • Published
  • By Jeanne Dailey
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

An Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate expert was presented the prestigious Peter Haas award at the 2022 Hardened Electronics and Radiation Technology (HEART) Conference held March in Tarrytown, New York. 
Dr. Robert “Bob” Pugh has worked in radiation-hardened electronics with AFRL and its predecessor organizations since 1992, first as an Air Force officer, then as a federal civil servant and now as a consultant.
“I’ve worked with many high-caliber, tenacious people in AFRL and across the Department of Defense,” said Pugh. “A big part of job satisfaction is the people you work with, the other part is the work you do. I have been blessed with having the best of both.”
During his government time with the AFRL Space Electronics Technologies (SET) team, Pugh provided significant support to the former Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (now Missile Defense Agency), the director of Defense Research and Engineering (now Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering) the Advisory Group on Electron Devices, and other DOD organizations in the areas of policy development, planning and oversight for defense electronic programs.
Pugh describes the functions and importance of the AFRL SET team and why he enjoys his work with the lab.
“There are two categories of systems the SET team supports, space systems and survivable systems – many space systems are both,” Pugh said. “The first has to operate reliably in natural space radiation to satisfy their mission requirements. Survivable systems are required to operate reliably in a post nuclear weapon detonation environment, which creates a much more stressing operational environment.” 
“Having developed technology that allows both categories, gives me a warm feeling of contributing to our national defense systems ability to do their job – this is exciting to me,” Pugh added. 
Pugh has an invaluable skill set that cannot be matched said Dr. Jesse Mee, who leads the SET team.
“Dr. Pugh’s skills have been developed through more than three decades of experience within the radiation technologies community, serving in multiple leadership and strategic advisory roles across DOD,” Mee said.
“As a strategic advisor, Bob has helped me to understand the roles among government research labs, program offices and prime contractors, and encouraged me to build the relationships with customer organization, which have directly resulted in identification of system requirements and securing of funding for research,” Mee continued. “These relationships have been critical for the successful transition of AFRL technology to warfighting capabilities.”
The Peter Haas award is given annually and is the highest level of recognition the HEART Society offers. The award is for demonstrating “outstanding and innovative technical contributions or leadership in the successful development of U.S. hardened military and space systems.” The HEART Conference is a U.S.-only restricted/classified conference focused on mitigating the effect of nuclear-weapon radiation on defense systems. 
Pugh was recognized for his life-long contributions in developing advanced radiation-hardened electronics for defense space and missile systems, and for his service to the HEART community. He has held several society and conference positions, including leading the preparation of two classified HEART short courses on weapons effects and mitigation. 
“For many years in various capacities, Dr. Pugh has been involved in all aspects of the R&D, planning, supervision and management of the AFRL SET team activities,” said Kenneth Bole who leads the Spacecraft Component Technology Branch. “As a respected contributor to national defense for decades and strategic advisor to the SET group, Bob is supremely deserving of this honor.”
Pugh has a bachelor's and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington, a doctorate in physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a master’s in management from Stanford University. He has been recognized as a senior member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a 2001 Air Force Stanford Sloan Fellow and a 2003 Fellow of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: