2014 Hays Award

Presented to: Neeraj Pujara

Citation: For his inspired leadership, outstanding encouragement, inspiration, and dedicated support contributing to the advancement of navigation.


Mr. Neeraj Pujara has successfully initiated and/or managed over $200M of government investment in PNT-related programs during his leadership career. Early in his program management career, he led GPS/INS/ SAR targeting programs at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Avionics Directorate and initiated and managed multiple joint efforts with the GPS Joint Program Office for enhanced GPS technology. As the program manager for the Integrated GPS Electronic Combat Critical Experiment, Mr. Pujara inspired his team by taking on the technical duties of an active flight test engineer, which resulted in a drastic cost reduction while maintaining the team’s schedule and delivering a demonstration that exceeded all operational performance expectations. He initiated a $55M joint effort with DARPA for precision geolocation of threat emitters and led a 100 person team that successfully achieved their technology goals. These PNT-enabled programs have multiple transitions to the Air Force’s fighter and bomber force.

As the chief of the Reference Systems Branch (2005-2012), Mr. Pujara established a mentoring plan for all branch employees and interns, fostering learning by inviting navigation experts to present short courses to the benefit of employees and local students. He made deliberate efforts to encourage employees to participate in ION-related activities. His dedication and enthusiasm as the lead organizer of ION’s Robotic Lawn Mower Competition (2006 to 2012) was instrumental in attracting the participation of over 100 college students. Mr. Pujara has been the primary force in establishing collaborative research programs between the Air Force and Singapore’s Ministry of Defense on multiband GNSS receiver design and processing techniques.

Mr. Pujara is the Spectrum Warfare Deputy Division Chief of the AFRL Sensor Directorate and their lead for AFRL’s Workforce Development Initiative. He is currently serving ION as the ION’s Joint Navigation Conference’s program co-chair and is an official DoD liaison to the ION’s Military Division.