Dr. Gregory L. Tangonan, COMSTE Executive Director, 2-time R&D 100 Awardee and Distinguished Inventor Awardee

A FEW years ago, a joint resolution of the 13th Congress of the Philippines created the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) to create, amend, or repeal laws and propose budgets that will make the Philippines competitive in science and technology. The country could not have chosen a better man to be the Executive Director of COMSTE than Dr. Gregory Ligot Tangonan, one of the world’s most respected names in the field of Science and Technology.

Dr. Greg Tangonan has over thirty-two years of impressive experience with Hughes Research Laboratories (HRL), the world’s premier physical science and engineering research laboratories. As HRL’s Director of Research until he retired in 2003, Greg has been on the leading edge of technology, conducting pioneering research, providing real-world technology solutions, and responsible for innovation strategy, conceptualization and execution of HRL’s Research Programs with collaborators worldwide. He was in charge of Strategic Planning of Research for the owners of HRL Laboratories, General Motors, Raytheon, and Boeing.

Greg’s work has realized groundbreaking advances in ultra-high-performance circuitry, and innovative computing and communications. His research and inventions in the field of science and technology operate in space, on aircraft, in automobiles, and in a variety of consumer products that make our world safer, support our national security and improve our quality of life.

Greg has twice won the prestigious R&D 100 Award, which honors and recognizes the 100 most significant, newly introduced research and development advances in multiple disciplines.

Winning one of the R&D 100 Awards provides a mark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the most innovative ideas of the year, nationally and internationally. Some of the R&D 100 Awards have been given for winning products such as the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the printer (1986), the Nicoderm antismoking patch (1992), the Taxol anticancer drug (1993), and HDTV (1998).

Greg was first awarded for all-optical switching modules that were developed for the world’s first demonstration of large-scale all-optical networking. His second R&D 100 Award was for secure fiber optic systems that can detect intrusions into the fiber while transmitting clear data.

Greg has 49 US patents and has published over 200 papers and made international presentations in the wide variety of fields like fiber optics, wireless communications, material science, and laser applications. He received several Published Paper- of-the-Year awards from HRL Laboratories.

Dr. Tangonan also received the Distinguished Inventor Award from HRL in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts on October 26, 1947 to Tomas and Aurea Ligot Tangonan, Greg grew up in Honolulu and La Puente, California. He studied at the Cathedral School in Hawaii, and went on to finish High School at the La Puente High School in California in 1965. He has twin sisters, Nena and Julie, and a brother, John.

An aunt, Gloria Ligot Escano, invited Greg to study at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines to take up Physics. After two years, he transferred to the Ateneo de Manila, where he finished his course and graduated in 1969.

He went back to the States, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Physics at the California State University in 1971. He was in CSU when Greg learned about the Howard Hughes Foundation which gives out scholarships together with the Hughes Research Laboratories. Greg received a scholarship to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where he earned his Doctorate Degree in Applied Physics in 1975.

While taking up his doctorate, Greg began working for HRL part-time. After getting his doctorate degree, Greg worked full-time for HRL, where he stayed for 32 years.

After retiring from HRL Laboratories, Greg Tangonan co-founded Wireless MEMS, Inc., in California that developed Silicon based RF MEMS switches for microwave applications.

Then, he decided to go back home and give back to his homeland by sharing his expertise in science and technology. He started Futurist Innovation, Inc. that is creating high tech start-ups in the Philippines since 2007. It is also forming engineering projects teams that attack multi-disciplinary problems like sustainable energy and environment and personal medical database deployment in rural communities.

Greg also joined his alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University, as Professor in the School of Science and Engineering. He is the Director of the newly formed Ateneo Innovation Center. The Center has recently incubated two companies, SkyEye, a UAV imaging services company and Pasagoods, a social networking service company that delivers donated goods to disaster victims.

He also established his own consulting company, Asia Pacific Technical Strategies, that operates in California and the Philippines.

“Asia Pacific Technical Strategies is our R&D company. We form Science and Engineering companies in the Philippines. The new companies focus on environmental and energy solutions for the developing world. We perform research in wireless networks, logistics, smart energy systems and biomedical devices and subsystems,” explained Greg.

The research groups he works with span numerous technologies – biomedical devices and subsystems, wireless logistics for supply chains, real monitoring and alerting of disasters, and smart energy solutions.

On his return to the Philippines, Greg said, “After spending more than 31 years in Industrial Research, I retired and decided to return to my alma mater to teach. I am really enjoying this new experience and, along with my family, am re-discovering how terrific it is to live in the Philippines. As my resume shows I am very interested (some say obsessed) with Innovation and Technology and how we Filipinos need to create new products and services and contribute great new ideas to the community of innovators worldwide.”

He is married to Lory Paredes Tangonan and they have a daughter, Cristina Elena. Greg and Lory live in the US (Oxnard, CA) and in the Philippines (Quezon City).

Truly, the Philippines is privileged to have Dr. Greg Tangonan back in the homeland.


(LA Weekend Nov 19-22 Sec A pg.10)

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