Key Technology Inc., Walla Walla, Wash., said it hired Dr. Michael Nicholsas senior director of research and development. Key manufactures food process automation systems and electro-optical inspection and sorting systems.

“Key is focused on solving customers’ production challenges.  We invest significant resources to develop technology and equipment solutions that help customers improve product safety and quality while reducing operating costs,” said David Camp, Key's president and CEO.  “Taking the lead in research and development, Nichols’ initial objectives are to reduce new product time-to-market and implement processes and procedures to assure that the highest quality equipment and software are designed.”

Nichols most recently served at director of operations for the Command and Control Systems division of  Planar Systems, Inc., Beaverton, Ore.