October 24, 2016


Innovators: Aerospace & Technology

Florida inventions: From the combat field to the football field ...

Mike Vogel | 11/1/2007

Engineering Visionary

Abhijit Mahalanobis
Abhijit Mahalanobis [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]

Three suggestions for science success: Keep abreast of the scientific literature to know what has been tried before; rely on intuition to judge which ideas of all the ones that pop into your mind are worth pursuing; remember that for every 10 things you try, one pans out.

» Abhijit Mahalanobis

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Signal Imaging and Processing Group, Corporate fellow, technical lead and manager

Location: Orlando

Education: Bachelor’s, electrical and computer engineering, University of California at Santa Barbara; master’s and doctorate, electrical and computer engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Family: Wife, Priti; daughter,
Priya Tanushree, 14; son, Nikhil Anjan, 8

Full circle: Mahalanobis received his Scientist of the Year honor in Baltimore, the same city where he was sworn in years before as a U.S. citizen.

Other honors: 1999, Innovator of the Year by the state of Arizona; 2001, Lockheed Martin’s Author of the Year; 2005, Inventor of the Year

Civilian applications for his work: Security, medicine

Reading: Light humor fiction writers, such as P.G. Wodehouse

In the future: Algorithms based on biological models

The suggestions come from someone who knows. Abhijit (pronounced ab-hee-JEET) Mahalanobis was named Scientist of the Year in 2006 by the Minorities in Research Science organization. He’s an inaugural fellow at Lockheed Martin in Orlando, a fellow of two scientific societies, holds three patents, has authored more than 120 journal and conference articles and co-authored a book, “Correlation Pattern Recognition.”

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Mahalanobis, 44, knew from at least age 6, as he watched Apollo 11, that science was his future. His forte is getting computers to “see” as the human eye does. He devised mathematical and programming algorithms that allow a machine to look at an image and distinguish, for example, tanks from the trees they’re hiding behind. He digitized pictures of land-based weapons systems from around the world and gathered information on the refractive properties of rocks and trees to make “seeing” easier. The goal is to deliver destruction more accurately and minimize collateral damage.

His 11-person group has brought $40 million to $50 million in contracts and grants to Lockheed Martin. It made the company the Army’s prime contractor for its future ground combat system’s aided target recognition system, a $38-million contract. “We are clearly the leader and pushing the edge forward.”

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