Clinton resident shares life of Rome Labs research and coaching on the high school court

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As the new deputy director of the Information Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, Clinton resident Dr. Michael Hayduk is in charge of overseeing a $1.8 billion annual budget and about 1,200 employees.

Hayduk, a native of Rome, graduated valedictorian of the Class of 1987 at Rome Catholic High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Clarkson University; his master’s degree from the University of Virginia; and his doctorate from Cornell University, all majoring in electrical engineering. According to his biography, he is also the graduate of the Air War College and Leadership Mohawk Valley.

Hayduk, who has called Clinton home for more than 20 years, joined the Air Force Research Laboratory in 1991 and has worked as Chief of the Computing and Communications division at the laboratory over the past eight years. He has led activities in discovery, development and integration of computing, networking and communications technologies for air, space and cyberspace forces.

He has been awarded the Air Force Civilian Achievement award and has received numerous Special Act and Scientific Achievement awards.

As part of the lab’s new leadership, Hayduk contributes to the oversight of a workforce including military and civilian employees, plus on-site contractors.

Hayduk spent the first 16 years of his career as a research engineer working in the field of photonics. During this time, he was the author of several journal articles and conference presentations. In 2007 he became the chief of the Emerging Computing Technology branch, also at AFRL. As the chief, he was responsible for 20 scientists and engineers and started several new programs in the fields of neuromorphic, quantum and nano computing.

In 2011, Hayduk was named the chief of the Computing and Communications division at AFRL.

“What we do is feed the development, discovery and integration of Air Force information technology, command control communications and cyber technology. As part of my duties, I help Colonel (Timothy J.) Lawrence” director of the Information Directorate and commander of Detachment 4, Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, "in overseeing the technical activities in the areas of over 1,200 scientists, engineers, support staff and administrative personnel,” Hayduk explained about his job duties.

The things the Information Directorate is working on, that gets scientists and engineers “very excited,” is artificial intelligence, cyber operations, quantum computing and nano electronics.

Hayduk explained that Rome Labs is part of the “bigger picture” — it’s a facet of the Air Force research laboratory headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Greene County, Ohio.

“Several information directorates go out to help other directorates,” said Hayduk. “Sensors, materials in manufacturing aerospace systems…there are larger types of platforms our technology can feed into,” the deputy director said. “Without the technology we (Rome Labs) work on, it would be hard to have success in other technologies” being worked on at other directorates.

Because a large part of what Rome Labs does is develop technologies that can be applied to “open source” or “foundational research,” it has a “huge economic impact” for the local area, Hayduk said.

"If you look at our impact analysis, it's $467 million as measured in the local five-county area,” he said. “The Air Force Research Laboratory is a driver of a high-tech ecosystem in the Mohawk Valley. And our economic figure seems to grow every year."

“We have a lot of outside funding” for projects "from the intelligence community — the Army, Navy and other government agencies — and with that growth, our budget grows and our economic impact grows,” Hayduk continued.

Of the 1,200 employees at the Information Directorate, Dr. Hayduk said 800 are direct (government) employees of the Air Force, and there are 400 scientists and engineers with advanced degrees, from a bachelor’s on up to PhD’s.

“Generally, the areas we hire into” from the community, “are electrical engineering, computer science, math and physics, which drive the information technology we work on,” the deputy director said. “Another 400” employees “work on site operations — from the finance department to the contracting department, legal department and site operations. We’re proud of the cohesive team we have. We wouldn’t be able to execute that kind of budget unless we had a strong team to support that."

Hayduk explained that the remaining 400 government employees — the onsite contractors — support the scientific and engineering mission of the Information Directorate.

"All supply 5,500 jobs” nationwide, “and a lot of opportunities — a lot of companies — are growing,” he said.

Hayduk said Rome Labs also has a very robust summer internship program and that many interns are hired as permanent employees once their internship is complete.

“We hire maybe 100 interns — they have a strong impact on our workforce, and we pair them with our summer faculty,” the deputy director explained. “We bring in professors from throughout the U.S. to work with our engineers and students, and it motivates our workforce. It’s a win-win for everyone. The great part is that students see what we do. Then they take that back to their university and tell their friends, and then maybe their friends want to come here to be part of the same opportunity. We do get a lot of applicants — about 600 — so we're highly sought after, and we’re impressed with the quality of students."

One of things that's making Rome Labs an "open innovation campus,” helping it to enhance the community’s knowledge about the labs and what’s going on there, and contributing to the growth of the technical ecosystem in Rome and the Mohawk Valley, is the 40,000 square-foot renovated facility that’s being built just outside the security perimeter, Hayduk said.

“It’s a partnership between the county, state and Griffiss Institute, and of course the lab,” he said. “Oneida County and the state have put in $12 million” for its construction.

The three-floor facility should be open by June. Recent restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the original designated May opening.

The building will be a “collaboration area that will bring together local industries, academia and international partners to work on problems and technologies in a collaborative environment,” Hayduk explained. “It opens things up to what we can do in basic research in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, cyber technology…It gets small businesses involved, students and academia and existing community partners. We’re excited to be a part of Rome, and the city has been a great partner. SUNY (Polytechnic Institute) has been great as well, helping to put together people who are excited to help not only further the mission for the lab, but also the impact for the area."

While Hayduk had received a plentiful amount of opportunities after graduating from Clarkson, he said he and wife Gina were happy to come back to the area to work, live and raise a family. Gina is a native of Utica. Both met while attending Clarkson University.

“We settled in Clinton, and we've lived here 22 years,” Hayduk said. “We love the community here. We raised our two kids, Michael, who will soon be 24, and our daughter Lindsay, who’s 21. Both were Clinton High School graduates, and both I and my wife are active in the community. We think it’s important to give back."

While attending Rome Catholic, Hayduk said he was “really big into sports” while growing up. He brought that athletic passion to the forefront when it came time to support son Michael’s endeavors, from Little League to high school basketball.

“For basketball, I coached a total of 13 years in the basketball program at Clinton High School, and I’m currently still coaching,” Hayduk said. “The neat part of story is that my son became the varsity basketball coach in Clinton this past year. He ended up playing college ball at Clarkson, and then we worked together coaching the junior-varsity team. Then he became the varsity coach, and now I serve as the assistant coach. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve had some good times coaching together."

Hayduk said his son was a much better basketball player than he was, getting offers from some Division III schools before graduating high school. But dad said he and mom Gina were proud their son chose to attend their alma mater. What he will always carry with him, however, is his “Red Wings for life” pride.

“The school always had a strong bond, and I have a lot of contact with my old classmates,” said Hayduk of his RCH days. “There was an amazing bond that RCH people had with each other no matter what generation. I’ve always identified as being a Red Wing — and Jackie Izzo — we always say we’re Red Wings for life."

He continued, "Growing up and in school, I focused on basketball as my main sport. I was a decent basketball player, but I wasn’t all-star caliber like my son. But during my senior year, our record was 19-4. We won the league title and made it to the sectional finals that year. We had so much talent on that team. Coach Mike Adey and Jim Kenny, our assistant coach — we learned so much from them — not only basketball, but about life. They not only taught me how to carry myself every day, but it’s also how I coach. There are life-long qualities you can learn, like grit, determination, perseverance...what happens when you get knocked down but have to get back up. It’s how you can learn from losing as well. It’s not only what we do on the court for 3-4 months of the season, it’s also what you can take with you and carry on for the rest of your life."

Being the deputy director of the Information Directorate and then coaching can make for some “long days,” but Hayduk said he really loves what he’s doing and that he’s able to give back to the community at the same time.

"I think there’s a few things” I love about coaching, he said. “There’s the strong bond with my son, and it’s really a family affair. My wife does the scorebook, and Lindsay is the team photographer. My son had a great year in his first year of coaching. The team was 5 and 15 the year before, then this year the team went 14-7, which is quite a turn-around. It got people in Clinton excited about basketball again. Michael is a great coach, and the kids love playing for him — they look up to him. It works when the coach is someone the kids can relate to."

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