For luring DIY to defense
Tony Long is a radio frequency and microwave engineer and the cofounder and director of FabLab, a creativity hub within Northrop Grumman. In the past year, hundreds of Northrop Grumman employees have stolen away to a 5,500-square-foot former shipping warehouse on the $23 billion defense contractor’s Redondo Beach, California, campus. There, amid 3-D printers, milling machines, and electronic test equipment, they prototype away without any bureaucratic oversight or budget concerns. Long, a 13-year veteran of the company, helped found the lab after he realized that the evenings he spent tinkering in his garage were leading to novel solutions at work. Since it opened, in 2014, some 1,300 members have signed up to learn new skills and experiment, creating devices and models that can accelerate classified projects involving aircraft and sensors. The space has proven so effective and popular that Long is opening four new labs and smaller satellites at Northrop Grumman sites around the country. Long was passionate about ham radio as a boy and went on to earn a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering with an emphasis in radio frequency from the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Santa Barbara, respectively.