2012 Laboratory Director of the Year Midwest

Award Year 

Since becoming Director of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Propulsion Directorate in 2008, Douglas Bowers has provided unavering support for the Directorate’s technology transfer program. He works tirelessly to close the gaps in overall technology developments, and has implemented new programs and procedures that empower Directorate personnel to pioneer innovative uses of technology transfer to accomplish the lab’s broad mission. Bowers’ management style motivates a spirit of entrepreneurshipthat encourages responsibility (more) and accountability at all levels of operation.Bowers is responsible for $3 billion in propulsion and power research facilities at the Wright-Patterson and Edwards AFB sites, where he leads a workforce of more than 1,000 peopleand oversees an annual budget of $400 million. He entered federal service in 1972 as a project engineer in the Flight Dynamic Laboratory (now Air Vehicles Directorate). Bowers served in a variety of senior technical positions in the AirForce, and has been a technical consultant on a number of aircraft development programs. As a division chief, he led all aspects of the technical and administrative program for development of breakthrough aerodynamic components that enhance warfi ghter capability. This background has given him insights and skills that translatedirectly into eff ective and perceptive leadership for the Propulsion Directorate.Throughout his tenure as director, Bowers has been a major, proactive advocate for the Propulsion Directorate’s technology transfer program. One of his fi rst actions after becoming Director was to partner with a local organization, the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI), to assist with technology transfer efforts. Specifically, the Directorate engaged WBI to create a strategy for ensuring the development and commercialization of alternative fuels that would lead to national energy security. By summer 2011, two diff erent alternative fuels had been certifi ed for use in both commercial and military aircraft.In 2012, the Propulsion Directorate will merge with the Air Vehicles Directorate to create the new Aerospace Systems Directorate. In recognition of his tremendous leadership skills, vision and energy, the Air Force has tapped Bowers to head the new organization. Describing himself as a “servant leader,” Bowers looks forward to bringing a new sense of entrepreneurship into the Directorate. (less)