Applied Physics Lab of Hopkins to cut 80 jobs

January 21, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory near Laurel said yesterday that it would eliminate about 80 jobs ++ in its engineering and fabrication branch within a month.

Yesterday's announcement followed work-force reductions of similar magnitude over the past three months as the nation's largest defense research lab connected to a university adjusted to drops in Pentagon spending.

The cuts will be across the board, said Helen Worth, a spokeswoman for the research center, commonly known as APL. She said the cuts would affect secretaries, administrators, engineers, technicians and other positions.

Most of the affected employees were told of the layoffs yesterday and that their jobs would be eliminated within 30 days.

Ms. Worth said the engineering and fabrication branch was involved in the design and production of items ranging from electronic chips to instrument panels for spacecraft. She said the branch does work for virtually every department of APL.

Employees at APL work on a variety of programs, including navigational satellites, Tomahawk cruise missiles and the Aegis weapon system, which is designed to protect surface ships from attack. The laboratory is also working on a propulsion system for an aerospace plane that is being designed to take off like a typical jetliner and soar into orbit.

Ms. Worth said the staff reductions, disclosed in a memo to the staff from APL Director Gary L. Smith, would include Hopkins employees as well as contractors who work at APL but are employees of outside companies. Total employment at APL is about 3,500, including about 700 contractors.

Ms. Worth said the reductions were a result of programs that were being delayed, not necessarily dropped, as military units wait to see what cuts will be made by the new Clinton administration.

To lessen its dependence on a shrinking Defense Department budget, Ms. Worth said, APL is moving into new areas of research.

She cited early work on a "smart highway" system in which a car would not need a driver but would be steered by electronic sensors. APL is also working on an auto engine powered by ammonia.

APL's goal is to cut its dependence on military spending from 97 percent to about 70 percent.

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