"In the end, it is still up to your postman to recognize that you have moved," said R. Rus Rodgers, project manager for Centel Information Systems Inc.

But beyond the mail carrier, almost every step in forwarding mail will be taken by machines after 1991. Under a $100 million contract signed last week, Centel Information Systems, a part of Centel Corp., will provide the U.S. Postal Service with a national computer system to process change of address mail.

Presently, forwarded mail is partially mechanized; one operator keys a portion of the address into a computer system while another operator manually sticks a yellow forwarding label onto the letter.

With the new system, these steps are condensed. One operator will enter the change of address into a national database. Another operator, in any of the 224 mail forwarding centers in the United States, can then key an "extract code" into the computer. The code includes the last three characters of the addressee's last name, the last two digits of his street address, and the first two characters of his street name. The system automatically prints and applies a forwarding label to the letter.

The Postal Service estimates the new system will save about two cents a letter on 3.8 billion pieces of mail. That is a savings of about $77 million in the first year. Centel says the system may double productivity in the mail forwarding department.

The three year contract calls for Centel to install the computers, software, electrical power, desks, chairs and all other things that are needed to make the system operational. The company also will train post office personnel.

The Centel system includes Bell & Howell Corp. workstations and IBM computers.

It will automatically take note of publications that are being forwarded and will provide correct addresses to publishers willing to pay for them.

Life Technologies Inc. (LTI), a biotechnology firm specializing in development of research products, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve a new test the company says has proven effective in detecting a sexually transmitted virus that may play a role in cervical cancer.

The LTI test, called "ViraPap," identifies the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) by detecting the virus' DNA, the genetic material that distinguishes each living organism.

ViraPap is designed to complement the Pap smear, which only identifies cells after they have become cancerous or precancerous.

General Kinetics Inc. (GKI) last week acquired the technology and other assets of Cryptek Inc. of Herndon. Under the agreement, Cryptek will operate as a subsidiary of GKI.

Cryptek designs secure communications equipment and encryption devices. General Kinetics, based in Rockville, manufactures enclosure systems for secure communications electronics on Navy ships. GKI also makes equipment for quality control in the food, plastics and magnetic media industries.

Louis R. Schap, president of GKI, said the acquisition represents "a million dollar commitment to move GKI to the leading edge" of Tempest technology. Tempest is the code name for technology used to prevent electronic eavesdropping on computers and electronic equipment.

GKI plans to invest about $1 million in Cryptek in the next nine months, most of it for product development.

Cryptek's founder and president, Steven A. Rogers, will head the operations of GKI's new subsidiary as well as become a director of GKI.

Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc., along with Grumman Aerospace Corp., Ford Aerospace Corp. and Wyle Laboratories were awarded a $840 million contract by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to design and develop program support for a space station.

Booz-Allen, a technology and management consulting firm, will provide a broad range of engineering, technical and analytic services in office information systems, space operations and database development.

The company expects to add more than 100 professionals as a result of the contract. Former astronaut William B. Lenior, William T. Bisignani and Steven E. Gottlieb are in charge of the project for Booz-Allen.

Aeronautical Radio Inc. (ARINC) has awarded Lexico Enterprises Inc. of Silver Spring and Aerospatiale of Toulouse, France, a $4 million contact to develop an airline electronics maintainance and repair test system called Smart.

ARINC, based in Annapolis, is the coordinating organization for the airline industry's maintainance and electronic engineering activities.

Smart, an acronym for Standard Modular Avionics Repair and Test, will detect and isolate problems in on-board electonics on aircraft. A civilian counterpart to the Mate test used by the U.S. Air Force for military avionics, Smart is expected to be the industry standard through the year 2010.

DSG Field Services Corp., ERC International's (ERCI) defense subsidiary, has been awarded a five year, $3.8 million contract with the Naval Electronic Systems Engineering Center in Charleston, S.C.

Under the contract, ERCI will study the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation leaks to fuel supplies and personnel. The company also will study interference problems between military and civilian communication systems.

ERC International, based in Fairfax, is a professional and technical services firm concentrating in defense, energy, environmental management and facilities management markets.

Oncor Inc., a molecular pathology company in Gaithersburg, has developed a probe-based test to detect the genetic component of the AIDS virus.

The test, called ConfirmAIDS, uses nucleic acid probes to directly detect the presence of the AIDS virus in white blood cells. The probes enter the patient's white blood cells and combine with the AIDS virus and can then be seen through a microscope.

Currently used antibody screening tests detect exposure to the virus, but not the virus itself, and therefore have a high number of inaccurate results. ConfirmAIDS can validate the presence of AIDS virus and monitor the effectiveness of antiviral drug treatments in patients undergoing AIDS therapy.

Oncor is in the process of preparing an application to the Food and Drug Administration, but has not stated when it will be submitted.

Richard F. Kline Inc. in Frederick has built a new asphalt manufacturing plant next to its existing one, making it the largest asphalt maufacturing facility in Maryland. The site now produces 1,000 tons of asphalt an hour. The new plant produces more than a third of that amount.

Richard F. Kline Inc., the biggest employer in Frederick County, has manufactured asphalt since 1955 on Grove Road. "We have probably paved every road in Frederick County at one time or another," said Thomas D. Kline Jr., chief executive officer of the Kline company. Kline employs 500 people and expects the new plant to add 25 more to its payroll.