The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) works with some of America’s brightest minds to protect U.S. diplomats and their posts. To help support the DSS mission, the Countermeasures Directorate’s Office of Research and Development has a long-term partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), one of the world’s leading technology research centers.

DSS and JHU/APL collaborate to apply advanced science and engineering to the problems of securing U.S. Department of State buildings and vehicles worldwide. Current projects include developing lightweight armor for Department vehicles, testing the blast resistance of advanced multi-layer windows, and ensuring that new structural sealants work for embassy buildings.

What brought these two organizations together? “The State Department has buildings in almost every country on earth,” said Brian Knarr, Office Director for Research and Development in the Physical Security Division.  “These buildings are targets for terrorists, so we have to make them as resistant as possible to car bombs, rocket attacks, and hostile mobs. We also have to safely move our personnel through potentially dangerous overseas environments. With our partners, DSS conducts advanced research on topics like blast resistance and vehicle armor.”

For more than 75 years Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has investigated how to apply science to the protection of national security. With a staff of more than 7,000, APL is the world’s largest university-affiliated research center.

Together, DSS and JHU/APL have worked on multiple projects. APL is researching ways to make lighter armor for State Department vehicles, which could improve vehicle life and fuel efficiency without sacrificing safety. JHU/APL is studying ceramic armor compounds using X-ray computed tomography.

U.S. Department of State

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