ICx’s Rose among ‘Top Young Innovators’

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--MIT Technology Review’s prestigious list of the world’s top technology innovators under the age of 35 contains just one name from the world of physical security: Aimee Rose, a 34-year-old scientist working in ICx’s research lab here, developing explosive detection technology. Because of the nature of her work, she was also named the magazine’s Humanitarian of the Year.

Catching up with her on vacation to Maine’s beaches, Rose was modest about the notice, saying she’s glad she can actually apply her scientific study. Her PhD work was done at MIT, where she began working on the chemistry of materials that would be useful for new types of explosive detectors, particularly aimed at discovering land mines.

“Basic science is interesting and valuable,” she said, “but real-world applications are where I’m most interested.” The research group headed by her advisor eventually had its work commercialized by ICx, and “it just sort of bloomed into a career.”

She said other young technical people have a fairly high opinion of the security industry now, even if it’s “not the lush high-tech world that most IT folks have experienced.”

“They think, ‘Oh, wow, business must be great for you,’ but it’s not like you’re happy with why business is better than normal. They don’t understand, either, that it’s always difficult to do business with the government and it’s hard to get these technologies into the hands of the people that they could be useful for.”

She said she’d be interested in going to Iraq, or another place where her work is helping keep people safe, but “it’s probably not in the cards.” She’s more often at airports.

Rose does see herself as something of a lifer, though. “I definitely have a few things more I feel like I can do,” she said. “As new threats emerge, my specialty is trying to develop materials that respond to them ... I want to have an impact on society. Whether that happens with this company or somewhere else, there are definitely things that need to get done, in my mind.”