AFRL commander highlights 2023 S&T goals

  • Published
  • By Jeremy Dunn
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle joined the “Lab Life” podcast to discuss her vision for the coming year and to reflect on 2022 successes. 

“Lab Life,” an AFRL Public Affairs product, brings listeners behind the scenes with Department of the Air Force scientists, engineers and professionals who are developing tomorrow’s technologies today. 

In this episode, Pringle provided an update on the priorities covered in her Commander’s Intent relating to accelerating science and technology, or S&T; “One Lab, Two Services” and building the best AFRL team. 

“I am keeping the three priorities, and I’ll say they have stood the test of time,” Pringle told “Lab Life” hosts Michele Miller and Kenneth McNulty. “We still have unfinished business that we want to go after. Looking forward to 2023, we are going to have the same priorities, but we’re going to put a couple of new objectives under each of them.”  

Another topic of discussion was AFRL’s continuing transition to the digital environment, including establishing a dedicated directorate within AFRL. 

“I stood up the Digital War Room to add some energy to our efforts and really accelerate where we were going with the digital transformation,” Pringle said. “In 2023, stay tuned. We are going to have a Digital [Transformation] Directorate. That is a full-blown organization part of AFRL, so kudos to the Digital War Room team for getting that started.” 

  According to Pringle, digital engineering and digital transformation will continue to be vital parts in AFRL’s support of both the U.S. Air Force and Space Force. 

“Digital engineering and digital transformation are not passing fads,” Pringle said. “It is really vital to your mission of designing, developing and sustaining technologies and capabilities.” 

Pringle described how the transition to digital engineering allows organizations to design, develop and sustain new technologies. She said using a variety of technologies and digital engineering tools will promote connections with stakeholders, suppliers, academia and industry partners.  

The goal is to enable “try before you buy” or begin physical production, she said. Digital engineering is intended to allow engineers and organizations to iterate on and test designs in a virtual environment before building the components or systems. According to Pringle, it could decrease costs associated with design and testing and shorten the acquisition process if done properly.  

In addition to looking forward to 2023 plans, Pringle reflected on gains made in 2022. In particular, she emphasized fitness and the efforts with the U.S. Space Force’s Holistic Health Assessment.

“What AFRL is trying to accomplish is understanding the components you can get from external measurement, whether it is a ring or a watch, and what does that tell the researcher about your fitness?” Pringle said. “I do love not only being the commander but also a participant in their studies.” 

 Pringle discussed how relaxed coronavirus precautions provided more travel opportunities in 2022, which helped her advance AFRL priorities. Trips included a Silicon Valley conference focused on partnerships and a trip to Maui, Hawaii focused on space domain awareness, which furthered the “One Lab, Two Services” priority.  

Pringle said increased travel opportunities enabled her to better understand what AFRL team members were working on and helped build the AFRL team. 

“I just want to say that I am so proud of AFRL and everything that the team does, and particularly the fact that the team emerged from COVID stronger than they were before,” Pringle said. 

For those interested in listening to the full episode, this “Lab Life” podcast is available on multiple platforms:

Stream or download at the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website at: 

Stream through the Air Force Materiel Command mobile app on AF Connect 

Lab Life on Apple podcasts is available here: 

Listen on Stitcher by visiting: 

Be sure to follow AFRL on social media at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube @afresearchlab. 

About AFRL 

The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit