Retired head of Penn State ARL given Defense Department’s highest civilian award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Edward Liszka, director emeritus of the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Penn State, was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award presented by the Secretary of Defense to a private citizen, noncareer federal employee or foreign national.

The award, presented at a ceremony in December 2014, recognized Liszka for “outstanding distinguished service” and “unparalleled leadership” as director of Defense-Related Research Units and director of ARL from August 2002 to June 2014, when he retired.

“The outstanding progress at the Pennsylvania State University ARL is indicative of Dr. Liszka’s unmatched ability to inspire his laboratory staff’s innovation and excellence in fulfilling Penn State ARL’s role of a trusted national resource. Dr. Liszka’s strong leadership and total devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Department of the Navy,” the citation, signed by then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, reads in part.

The citation recognizes the advances made at ARL under Liszka’s leadership, including the laboratory's developments “that were critical to growing the United States Navy’s technical superiority across an increasingly complex 21st century operating environment.”

A Penn State graduate, Liszka worked at ARL for 30 years, starting in 1984 as a senior research associate and assistant director for program management. Before that, he served in the U.S. Navy for 19 years.

In 2001, he served for more than a year as chief scientist, research and technology director at the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C., receiving the Superior Public Service Award for his work there.

In 2002, he was appointed director of ARL at Penn State, and in 2004 he was named director of Defense-Related Research Units.

Liszka earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and master’s in engineering acoustics from Penn State. He earned a doctorate in applied physics (acoustics) from the Catholic University of America.

Last Updated June 25, 2015