Roca Appointed Seventh APL Director
Roca, currently a vice president of AT&T Labs, the company's research and development arm, will join APL as its seventh director on Jan. 1. He was appointed by the university's board of trustees on the recommendation of President William R. Brody.
"Rich Roca has both a very strong technical R&D background and a record of great success leading a large business organization," Brody said. "He comes from an industry that has undergone dramatic restructuring and can ably guide APL through changes in the way that government and other APL research sponsors are doing business.
"Rich's unusual combination of hands-on R&D, senior management and government experience makes him just the right person to maintain and even strengthen APL's leadership in service to the nation," Brody said.
APL is a research-and-development division of Johns Hopkins, working primarily for the Department of Defense but also for civilian agencies--such as NASA and the departments of Energy and Transportation--and for a growing number of private sponsors. Located near Laurel, Md., APL and its 2,700-member staff devise systems to protect naval fleets, build and operate research satellites and deep space probes, develop biomedical technology and work in dozens of other specialities.
Since 1996, Roca, 55, has been the AT&T Labs vice president responsible for technical development of AT&T's Internet-based services, including AT&T WorldNet, the nation's largest direct Internet access service with 1.8 million subscribers. In this position, formally known as vice president for Internet protocol services planning and development, he leads a staff of 2,000.
Previously, Roca was with AT&T Business Communications Service, where he was general manager of the company's communications business supporting civilian agencies of the federal government, such as cabinet departments, NASA and the Social Security Administration. In this role, he was responsible for the bottom line and for all functions from marketing and sales to operations and customer service. His portfolio included FTS2000, the largest telecommunications contract awarded to that time, with $400 million a year in revenue.
Roca joined AT&T in 1966, just after he graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in mechanical engineering. Under AT&T's sponsorship, he later earned a master's degree and, in 1972, a doctorate in that discipline from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At various points in his career, he helped devise the post-divestiture strategy for what was then Bell Labs and led planning for new AT&T products such as Advanced 800 Service and Calling Card Service. In 1977, he won a Congressional Fellowship and worked for the House Commerce Committee on passage of the National Energy Act. Later, he worked on classified projects for various federal organizations.
"I've always found it very rewarding, personally, to support the government in its mission to serve the citizen," Roca said. "The opportunity to do that again [at APL], and to do it in a general manager role, is very attractive. This is a really wonderful opportunity to grow personally and to contribute to the institution and the nation."
Roca has maintained close ties to higher education throughout his career. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a past vice president of its Board on Engineering Education. He is also a former member of the board of directors of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which accredits U.S. engineering schools. He now chairs the advisory council of Lehigh's School of Engineering. He is a member of the Science, Technology and Engineering Advisory Board of Monmouth University and a trustee of the National Technological University.
"The chance to be affiliated with an institution such as Johns Hopkins is another important point of connection between this opportunity and my personal interests," he said.
Roca, who now lives in Basking Ridge, N.J., will succeed Gary L. Smith, who stepped down April 15 as APL director after seven years and is now deputy director of the CIA for science and technology. Eugene J. Hinman, assistant director for programs and an APL staff member since 1962, has been serving as interim director.
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