Technology Today

2012 Issue 2

Tony Ponsford

Engineering Profiles

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Mark Hebeisen
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Terry Stevenson
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Jennifer Cormack
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Tony Ponsford
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Teh-Kuang Lung
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Premkumar (Prem) Natarajan
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Engineering Profile

Tony Ponsford
Engineering Fellow, Technical Director, RCL

Dr. A.M. (Tony) Ponsford is a technical director for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) at Raytheon Canada Limited (RCL), specializing in high frequency surface wave radar (HFSWR) and integrated maritime surveillance (IMS) technologies. Ponsford addresses the importance of putting the customer first and foremost: "In my dual role of representing Engineering and Business Development, I get to meet customers and their scientific staff. Together, we develop a solution to the problem that they are facing. The solution often encompasses engineering and financial challenges, as well as cultural. We then get to transition the solution into a program that meets the requirements and budget constraints of the customer. It is rewarding when the relationships developed outlast the project."

Ponsford's MDA career started with his serving in the Merchant Marine, where he worked with Shell Tankers in developing concepts for MDA. In the 1980s, working as a research associate at the University of Birmingham, he initiated the development of the HFSWR for persistent surveillance of a nation's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In 1987, as senior scientist, manager and technical director for NORDCO's newly formed IMS business unit, Ponsford established Canada's first HFSWR test bed facility at Cape Bonavista in St. John's, Newfoundland. This effort eventually progressed into the world's first shore based, real-time, EEZ surveillance sensor used to provide the continuous, all-weather tracking of ships, icebergs and aircraft within the EEZ.

Ponsford collaborated with NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and Western University to develop a high frequency line-of-sight radar to detect and track meteors. He also designed HF radar systems for the U.S. government to track cruise missiles and theatre ballistic missiles.

"Engineering is a tough but rewarding profession," Ponsford relates. "Every day brings new challenges. The most exciting aspect of this is when you see one of your projects deployed and working, with a happy customer. When your customer gets promoted you know that the system worked well."

Ponsford graduated with distinction from Plymouth Navy College (UK). He earned a bachelor's degree with first-class honors in Maritime Technology from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. He was awarded a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Birmingham (UK) in recognition of his pioneering work in HFSWR.

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