2008 Technical Excellence Award Recipients

Allen D. Pillsbury

Photo of Allen PillsburyFor his innovation in the mechanical design of space-based sensors and optical communication systems, and his introduction of new technologies that demonstrate revolutionary performance gains for space systems.

Allen D. Pillsbury is a Senior Staff member in the Mechanical Engineering Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Currently, he is engaged in several programs, including one that will demonstrate laser communications from a lunar orbit to an Earth ground station.

Since joining Lincoln Laboratory in 1983, Mr. Pillsbury has been involved in the design and construction of a variety of space-based and other systems. For the Fleetsat EHF program, he worked on packaging novel surface acoustic wave devices and improving the reliability of printed circuit boards used throughout the payload. Mr. Pillsbury has also been responsible for packaging Lincoln Laboratory–fabricated detectors used in two different orbiting X-ray observatories. The Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS)—one of two detector arrays in Chandra, the third of NASA's four great observatories—provides exquisite images of the high-energy regions of the universe. Suzaku, a Japanese X-ray observatory, utilizes four wide-field-of-view imaging spectrometers developed jointly by NASA and MIT.

Much of Mr. Pillsbury's work has been in free-space laser communications (lasercom) systems. The Geosynchronous Lightweight Technology Experiment (GeoLITE) was the first successful space-based high-rate lasercom system and demonstrated operation with ground and airborne terminals. The Mars Laser Communications Demonstration was a NASA-funded program to develop a terminal capable of communicating from a Martian orbit to Earth ground terminals. Smaller, low-power lasercom terminals are being developed as part of the above-mentioned Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration.

Mr. Pillsbury contributed to the Overlook program, which required the design of a two-axis, steerable, fold mirror assembly and a rugged, compact enclosure for a remotely operated video surveillance system used by the military.

In addition, he has participated in numerous design studies for next-generation space-based instruments and in reviews of programs conducted outside of Lincoln Laboratory. He has served on the Laboratory's New Technology Initiatives Board and its Advanced Concepts Committee. He holds BSME and MEME degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Benny J. Sheeks

Photo of Benny SheeksFor his analysis of radar observations of foreign and domestic ballistic missiles, his expertise in the utilization and interpretation of real-world ballistic missile radar data, and his techniques and results that have formed a critical cornerstone for the development of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Dr. Benny J. Sheeks is a Senior Staff member in the Intelligence, Test, and Evaluation Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

He joined Lincoln Laboratory in 1979 following completion of a BS degree in physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a PhD degree, also in physics, from the University of Texas at Austin. His initial efforts were devoted to analyzing data from Cobra Dane and the "early days" of Cobra Judy, first the S-band phased array and later the X-band adjunct dish radar.

For many years, Dr. Sheeks has presented results from these and other radars at national-level conferences and workshops, and has become recognized as a national expert in the utilization and interpretation of real-world ballistic missile radar data. For the past twenty years, he has briefed attendees at the Laboratory's Ballistic Missile Defense Joint Advisory Committee Seminar.

In recognition of his "consistently presenting outstanding analyses of radar data," Dr. Sheeks was named by the Military Sensing Symposium on Missile Defense Sensors, Environments, and Algorithms (MD-SEA) as a recipient of the 2007 John Jamieson Award. He has also been a member of many teams receiving Laboratory Excellence Awards, including the recent "Burnt Frost" Satellite Shootdown Team.

The techniques and results that Dr. Sheeks and his group have produced over the past thirty years have formed a critical cornerstone for the development of the Ballistic Missile Defense System to provide a robust defense against emerging threats.

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