Aerospace and defense: challenging, high-stakes fields
“Defense is a very dynamic environment. Demands and priorities change with security threats and warfighter needs.” – Shaundra Eberhardt, CACI
“Aerospace is a challenging sector. Requirements, technology and cost all need to be considered, but safety is always the priority.” – Mauro Atalla, UTC
By Claire Swedberg
The search for diverse talent in the aerospace and defense industries is providing opportunities for engineers, IT specialists and students in these disciplines. Richard Schmaley, vice president of enterprise talent capture and redeployment at global security company Northrop Grumman, says the greatest need is for technical staff who can benefit Northrop’s product development efforts and support the missions of the company’s customers.
“We seek college students and professionals who have strong STEM academic backgrounds along with high grades and well-rounded experiences,” says Schmaley. Involvement with professional associations, student groups and community outreach activities is an indicator of a candidate’s ability to work in teams and collaborate. Research projects and internships are also helpful. “If there is a good fit, we love to hire former interns.”
Schmaley looks for candidates with experience in business, cybersecurity, engineering, health IT, human resources and administration, production, manufacturing and more. Degrees include software, systems, electrical, mechanical, civil and structural engineering.
Engineers and IT pros have a part in nearly everything produced at Northrop Grumman: equipment and solutions that protect the military; unmanned systems; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; satellites that predict climate change; cybersecurity; and health information technology.
Some engineers spend their time converting customers’ needs into requirements and specifications, while others focus on design, integration and testing. And, Schmaley adds, “In the cyber world, where unidentifiable enemies attack networks 24/7, our IT and engineering professionals provide the most advanced protection for our customers in the intelligence, defense, civil/federal, critical infrastructure and international domains.”
Diversity in aerospace and defense
Industry leaders agree that diversity plays a key role in the kind of innovative thinking needed. Diversity is a focus for Military Sealift Command (MSC, Washington, DC), a transportation provider for the Department of Defense. Gani Penaranda, branch head of human capital management at MSC, says, “The organization is committed to identifying and removing barriers to equal employment opportunities. Military Sealift Command values the diversity of its workforce, which strengthens the command and reinforces the trust the Navy and the American people have in us.”
Sturhonda James: SCEO at National Security Agency’s Threat Operations Center
Sturhonda L. James is senior collection and execution officer (SCEO) at the central security service (CSS) threat operations center (NTOC) of the National Security Agency (NSA, Fort Meade, MD).
She earned a BS in computer science at Shaw University (Raleigh, NC) and an MSCS at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (Greensboro), both historically black universities. She is now completing a PhD in information technology with a specialization in information assurance and security on line through Capella University. Her dissertation research focuses on the possibilities of cyber warfare and the private sector’s role in defeating cyber terrorism.
“I’m a first-generation college student and the oldest of five, so attending college was very important for me,” says James.
After getting her masters, she went to work at the NSA as development program manager. “The program allowed me to continue to develop my technical skills by completing six rotations in three years,” she says. Each rotation exposed James to a new agency mission, new skill sets, and a new office. Most of her tours involved customer interaction and cybersecurity missions. “I was even able to complete a tour at U.S. Cyber Command,” she notes. The rotation program, run by the NSA’s information assurance directorate, includes courses, an analysis paper and a rigorous oral qualifications exam.
After completing the program, James began in her current role. She’s a key team lead in the collection and execution cell, providing leadership and technical expertise in the development of intelligence collection strategies to support NTOC’s mission.
James says she has developed some valuable soft skills: adapting to new environments, working with diverse professionals, relocating, developing professional relationships, and finding a work-life balance. “Each unique experience helped me increase my problem-solving skills and confidence in myself.” Conquering these challenges, she adds, taught her persistence, strength and teamwork skills that she uses each day.
Being a woman in technology is “motivating”
The work suits her skills and interests, she says. “The only challenge I have identified working in my current environment is that it’s a male-dominated field.” James adds, “I don’t view this as an issue for me. On the contrary, it motivates me to work harder to set an example and pave the way for other young women. I’m sure in years to come the number of women in this field will grow.”
She finds value in giving back too. “I still find time to volunteer in an employee resource group, as well as in technical recruitment and the NSA’s outreach program, MEPP (math education partnership program).”
Mauro Atalla: engineering director at UTC Aerospace Systems
Mauro Atalla, PhD, began his career in academia, but now develops technologies and products for the aerospace industry. As director of engineering at the sensors and integrated systems business unit of the Aerospace Systems division of United Technologies (UTC, Hartford, CT), he’s responsible for strategic planning and execution of a $90 million portfolio of technology and product development projects.
“The products I work with span fuel management, fire protection and electric brake systems for airplanes; health and utilization monitoring systems for helicopters; and guidance, navigation and control systems for missiles,” he says.
“The role of my organization is to make sure the technology and development programs for our products are executed with the highest quality while meeting schedule and budget commitments.”
Educational journey across three continents
Atalla earned a 1990 BS in mechanical engineering from the State University of Campinas in Brazil, and a masters of science eighteen months later. He spent the final semester of his undergraduate program at the University of Wuppertal in Germany.
He recalls the significant culture shock of moving to Germany, but believes it taught him to understand different cultures. “I interacted with people from many different countries while I was there. That exposure was one of the most important experiences in my life.”
After he finished his masters, he moved to the U.S. and enrolled in a PhD program in engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg). He finished his PhD in 1996.
Atalla joined the faculty at Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte MG, Brazil for a year, then returned to the U.S. to work as a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge) active materials and structures laboratory in the department of aeronautics and astronautics.
In 2000 Atalla took a position as a research engineer at the UTC Research Center (UTRC).There, he focused on the development of new technologies and design of new products. He was promoted to project leader at the Otis program office in 2003.
Under UTC’s employee scholar program, the company funded his MBA at Duke University, which he completed in 2005. “That program is one of the great benefits of working for UTC,” he says. In 2006, Atalla became director of the UTC Fire & Security Program office at UTRC, and in 2012 he transferred to the UTC Aerospace Space Systems division where he is now.
Aerospace is a challenging sector, Atalla says. Stringent certification requirements, advanced technology needs, and continuous pursuit of cost reduction opportunities all need to be considered, while safety remains the number-one priority. “What impresses me most about working with aerospace systems is the incredible and dedicated engineering talent we have. This makes addressing these challenges manageable.
“Talent development is an important part of maintaining the pipeline of engineering expertise,” he adds.
“I have always been curious and technically inclined, which has been important for the career I chose,” Atalla says. “But I believe the most valuable skills I developed over the years were good listening skills and the ability to work with people from various backgrounds and cultures.” He points out that these skills are particularly important in today’s global work climate.
To people interested in careers in aerospace, he says, “Always look for opportunities to learn new skills. Working on problems in different technical domains gives you a broader set of experiences and greater adaptability.”
Atalla is a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He holds four patents and has six pending patent applications.
USAF’s Evens Perjuste: surveyor, mapmaker, humanitarian
Senior airman Evens Perjuste is a surveyor and mapmaker stationed at Laughlin AFB (TX).
Born in Port Margot, Haiti, Perjuste came to the U.S. in 2000 when he was thirteen. By this time he had already lived through a coup in his home country and witnessed tremendous hardship. He was determined to go into medicine so he could help those who couldn’t help themselves.
In high school, however, Perjuste discovered that he was drawn to computers. He got a full scholarship to Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton) to study computer engineering. In fall 2009, halfway through his last college semester, he met up with a friend who had just completed Army basic training, and he decided to join the military.
Perjuste joined the U.S. Air Force. “The Air Force offered jobs in software engineering and I saw vast opportunities. It would allow me to continue my education while learning from individuals from all walks of life,” he says. It also enabled him to become a U.S. citizen.
In the military, Perjuste provided engineering support for military construction projects, doing maps, drawings and surveys.
The desire to help others continues
He wants to use his skills to help others, especially in communities in which humanitarian efforts are most needed. Perjuste calls himself a “people person” and says his communication skills are one of his biggest strengths.
“I feel a positive attitude goes a long way,” he says. “If you’re motivated you’ll see that something can get done. Just because something is different from the norm doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You have to be open and positive.”
His positive attitude has paid off. In 2012 Perjuste was named Texas Air Force Association Airman of the Year.
“My long-term goal is to be a systems engineer,” he says, “and use my work to make life better for others.”
Manette Delgado is a senior engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton
As a senior engineer on Booz Allen Hamilton’s NASA integrated management team, Manette Delgado provides business development, systems engineering, process engineering and project management support for engagements within the aerospace and defense community. Booz Allen Hamilton (McLean, VA) is a provider of management consulting, technology and engineering services.
Delgado began her career in the military, joining the U.S. Air Force in 1991 after graduating from high school in Puerto Rico. While she was in the Air Force, she worked in satellite operations for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Immediately, Delgado recalls, “I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” After the Air Force, she worked at the NASA Ames Research Center doing aero-acoustics testing in the world’s largest wind tunnel.
She earned her BS in aerospace engineering at Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne) in 2000. Two years later, she got a masters degree in aerospace engineering science from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Delgado took a position as an orbital analyst and software and satellite engineer at the center for research support for General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman at Schriever AFB (CO).
“I realized I liked engineering, but to be a better engineer, I also needed a background in business,” she recalls. She began pursuing her MBA, which she got in 2004.
Delgado took an engineering position at Booz Allen, where she has worked with NASA’s International Space Station program, the Missile Defense Agency and the USAF Space Command’s launch rangers. Currently, she is supporting the Johnson Space Center’s information resources directorate. She is evaluating the existing IT infrastructure and processes to define a business-driven enterprise architecture. She evaluates IT processes, looking for problems and solutions that improve business practices.
Important tools of the trade
Delgado has honed her interpersonal skills to communicate effectively with both technical and business-oriented colleagues and clients. When she recruits for Booz Allen, she looks for candidates who can communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds, and have the mental agility to quickly jump into a role and begin seeking solutions to problems.
Challenges of the field
Working in defense has its challenges, Delgado warns. One is the volatile nature of funding that follows changes in politics. Individuals need to be ready to move into new projects or new agencies as funding changes, and that requires flexibility. “The work is still rewarding,” she says. “Often after working on a project, I leave that effort knowing it will continue on and assist in national defense or warfighter safety for years to come.”
She notes that “More often than not I’m the only woman in the room, but for me that hasn’t been an issue.” She believes that as a minority, females need to help set the climate of the workplace, clearly indicating how they work and what is or is not acceptable.
She loves her career. “I wouldn’t trade it. The positive challenges of this job supercede any issues I might face.”
Lindsay Cunningham ensures helicopter safety at Airbus Helicopters
Aircraft safety is the mission of Lindsay Cunningham. She is the senior manager of aviation safety at Airbus Helicopters (formerly American Eurocopter, Grand Prairie, TX).
Cunningham planned to be a pilot and earned her bachelors degree in 2004 in professional aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL). She started working to earn her pilot ratings, but found that piloting interested her less than the engineering that ensured the safety of the aircraft she flew.
She completed an internship at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a federal agency that investigates civil aviation accidents. She worked on investigations of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the south central U.S. This interested her, and after graduation she took a position at Airbus Helicopters as associate accident investigator.
She was promoted to accident investigator in 2006, and in 2008, was named senior accident investigator. She also earned her MS in aeronautical science, focused on safety systems and operations, at Embry-Riddle. And in 2010, she became manager of accident investigation and fleet safety.
Initially she travelled to accident sites and helped NTSB investigators with the technical and model-specific aspects of investigations. Then she moved into fleet safety, where she was more proactive, working to ensure the safety of the aircraft her company manufactured. She worked on projects like the development of a light flight data recorder called the Vision 1000 that Airbus Helicopters now installs as standard equipment in most of its light and medium models.
A passion for her mission
Cunningham says the daily challenge of her work in accident investigation keeps her excited about what she does. “This is something I’m really passionate about. I get to go out and learn for a living.”
She works with customers who operate the aircraft, colleagues at Airbus Helicopter who design and develop safety systems, and investigators who identify the cause of accidents.
Cunningham has served as co-chair of the Global Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring Association, working to help global efforts to create best practices for safety in the helicopter industry. She also pilots helicopters herself.
GDEB senior engineer Amy Nicole Sissala knew her calling
Amy Nicole Sissala knew she was interested in engineering early. Her grandfather was a mechanical engineer and his work intrigued her. Today she is a senior engineer at General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB, Groton, CT), which provides design, construction and lifecycle support of U.S. Navy submarines.
Sissala works in the solid mechanics group providing computer modeling for the U.S. Navy’s new submarines. She works with EB colleagues and Navy officers providing support for parts on multiple classes of boats.
She earned her BS in 2008 in architectural engineering with an emphasis on structural engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago), and a masters in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Groton (CT) site in 2012.
While in college, she interned at energy engineering company Sargent & Lundy (Chicago, IL) where she worked on the steel structure for a boiler building. She was introduced to EB at a career fair and was impressed with its products.
In 2010 she participated in EB’s technology exploration program examining superhydrophobic and anti-fouling coatings and their impacts on submarine technology.
Secrets to success
As Sissala develops her skills at Electric Boat, she says she’s been served well by a fearlessness and stubbornness that has led her into challenging positions. “I like a challenge,” she says.
She urges others to be proactive, not to wait to “be picked out of a haystack. Find connections. It’s always helpful to know somebody.” When she meets with students at career fairs, she’s often impressed with their experience and the networking they’ve already done. “There are a lot of talented kids out there,” she says.
Working in defense gives Sissala a sense of purpose. “There’s a lot of pride in our product. We know we’re helping the national defense.” She has family members in the military and always keeps in mind the safety of military personnel who use the technology she helps develop. Although she is a minority in a field of mostly white males, Sissala says, “I grew up in a family that said we can do anything boys can do.”
Gigi Carter leads continuous improvement for aerospace engineering at Eaton
Geraldine (Gigi) Carter got her start in finance. Today she is continuous improvement leader of engineering for the aerospace group at Eaton (Irvine, CA), which designs and develops systems and components for commercial and military aircraft.
Carter earned her BS in economics from John Carroll University (University Heights, OH) in 1994 and an MBA from Cleveland State University (OH) in 1996. Her first job was at KeyCorp in Cleveland as a personal trust officer. She eventually rose to the position of assistant VP of corporate banking, representing middle-market companies in sell-side merger and acquisition advisory transactions.
In 1999 Carter went to Parker Hannifin (Cleveland, OH), a manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems. She worked in Cleveland and San Diego, first as a business planning and development associate, then as division controller. She also began developing her technical and lean improvement skills.
In 2003 Carter moved to Washington Mutual Bank in Seattle, WA, where she was vice president and manager of strategic planning and operational excellence.
She came to Eaton in 2006 as senior manager of process improvement and financial controls, leading Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and process improvement in the aerospace group setting up standard policies for its twenty plants worldwide.
She then moved into operational excellence to manage the integration strategy for recently acquired aerospace businesses. As operations manager she was responsible for complex machining, heat treating, after-market repairs, assembly and test, and oversaw a team of 230 employees.
Carter assumed her current position in 2012. She leads continuous improvement for aerospace group engineering at twenty-four sites worldwide. Her responsibilities include strategy development, deployment of standard engineering processes, design for Six Sigma, and product and environmental compliance.
“My focus is on developing and deploying standard processes across our global engineering organization so we can bring new technologies to market faster and better than ever before,” Carter explains.
Other lessons learned
Her philosophy includes striving for excellence despite obstacles. “Aerospace/defense is a very white male-dominated, close-knit industry. Often I felt the need to alter who I am to fit in,” she says. “But over time, I learned I needed to trust people more, and to have more confidence in myself. Underneath the surface of skin color and gender, I have a lot more in common with others than I thought.”
Her advice to others is simple. “No matter what your age or level in the company, seek ways to learn from others and share your knowledge with them.” And, she adds, be kind. “We are all people, and it is important to be aware of how you make others feel.”
Northrop Grumman VP Shawn Purvis leads a team that supports intell and DoD
Shawn Purvis is VP at the integrated intelligence systems business unit (IISBU) at Northrop Grumman Information Systems (McLean, VA). “Her team provides information technology systems in support of the intelligence community and DoD customers.
Purvis is responsible for managing all aspects of the IISBU business, including strategy, growth, customer relationships and program execution. The IISBU works on independent research and development initiatives that produce new and innovative products to meet customer and market requirements.
Purvis earned her BS in computer science at Hampton University (VA) in 1991 and a 1995 MS in information systems at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA). She has a program management certification from the Project Management Institute and graduated from the executive program at the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School (Charlottesville).
Purvis started her career with Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD) as a systems engineer, and graduated from its engineering leadership development program. She then worked at SAIC (McLean, VA) and moved into senior leadership positions during her thirteen-year tenure there, including senior vice president in SAIC’s intelligence systems business unit.
Succeeding in a competitive industry
Now at Northrop Grumman, she brings all her skills to the table. “I work in a very competitive industry that depends heavily on the government budget. As the defense budget decreases, the competition is more intense,” Purvis says. “To meet these challenges, my organization looks for new technical discriminators such as big data in response to our customers’ needs. We help our key customers implement innovative technical solutions that offer cost efficiencies and reliability to the end user.”
Purvis is a leader in Northrop’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and employee resource groups. In 2009 she was nominated for a leadership award by Washington, DC-based Women in Technology.
Her drive to succeed came partly from her systems engineering professor in college. “He wanted us to be great. And he taught us that to be great, we had to prepare ourselves and be disciplined in our work.”
That work ethic has enabled her to remain focused during challenging times. “In addition, I’ve learned to be accountable to my team, lead with passion, and find a solution no matter what obstacle is present.”
Shaundra Eberhardt: CACI program manager
Shaundra Eberhardt is program manager at information solutions and services company CACI (Arlington, VA). CACI serves the defense, intelligence, homeland security and federal civilian government communities.
Eberhardt grew up in Cleveland, MS and attended college at the Mississippi University for Women (Columbus). She graduated with a BS in mathematics in 1997.
In 1999 Eberhardt moved to Stafford, VA and took her first job in the defense industry as a systems analyst for Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC, now Engility, Chantilly, VA). After a year, she moved to modeling and simulation analytical support.
In 2001, she went to work for Computer Sciences Corporation (Falls Church, VA) in Rosslyn, VA as a systems analyst. She started as project scheduler, then became project leader, managing web application projects through the software development lifecycle.
In 2004, she began working for CACI in Crystal City, VA as a web and portal services team manager. She managed the website, portal development activities and its end-user operations support. After several years, she moved into the portfolio management team and then the applications development team.
Eberhardt moved to another CACI contract in 2011. As a project manager, she was responsible for project planning, execution, monitoring and resource balancing of multiple simultaneous projects.
Today Eberhardt is program manager responsible for overall management and execution of an IT support contract for an investigative agency. She provides IT support in application development, network engineering, systems administration and integration, information assurance and user support for offices around the world.
Adapting to dynamics
“The defense sector is a very dynamic environment where the demands and priorities change based on the security threat and the needs of the warfighter,” she says.
Work is usually contracted in three-year to five-year terms so, she says, there is always some concern at the end of contract periods. “Patience, flexibility and adaptability are my keys to successfully navigating unique challenges and changes.”
Eberhardt says she’s been fortunate to have people supporting her along the way. She has learned important soft skills, including active listening, effective communication, and even conflict management. “How I approach a situation can almost always indicate the outcome. Management and customer service definitely come with their challenges but I’ve learned how to approach those situations and manage them to get to a meaningful outcome.”
Hiring at CACI
CACI utilizes a wide array of technical skills across many IT and engineering disciplines. The company supports its clients’ critical missions by providing tailored, end-to-end enterprise IT services, says Larry Clifton, EVP and chief human resources officer. The company also provides health IT solutions that facilitate medical information sharing for federal agencies.
CACI engineers are sought for acquisition planning and support, engineering planning, lifecycle maintenance, technical research and rapid engineering assessments. Engineering professionals also support military efforts in integrated, enterprise-wide command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs.
Clifton urges jobseekers to utilize every resource available to become familiar with the industry, the company and the position. “Thanks to technology, there’s more information out there than ever before. Tap into it and use it to build a persuasive case for employment.”
He also encourages interviewees to demonstrate their interest, articulate exactly why they’d be a great fit, and ask questions. “A great question is sometimes just as significant as a great answer, and can really showcase how insightful you are. And be armed with real-life examples that prove how your personal differentiators contribute to professional success.”
Diversity is the expectation
“At CACI, we recognize that diversity is not only a moral imperative; it’s a business imperative,” Clifton says. “We expect our employees to make a personal commitment to respect, embrace and value all aspects of diversity and inclusion, applying the same enthusiasm and energy to this commitment as they do to meeting CACI’s other strategic goals and objectives.
“The company is dedicated to respecting all individuals and utilizing their differences to build a stronger, more agile business model that strengthens our collective talent, offerings, and most importantly, our character.”
Jennifer Moody manages tech recruitment and leadership at Lockheed Martin
Not all technical career leaders got their academic start in the sciences and technology. Lockheed Martin technical recruitment and leadership program manager Jennifer Moody was always interested in engineering and technology, but she graduated from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) with a BA in African American history and sociology.
After graduating, she went to work for a recruiting firm, the Richmond Group (Richmond, VA). “I was assigned to the engineering and technical recruiting department. I learned which skills were in demand in technical fields. I also learned a lot about the Six Sigma methodology.”
Moody found Six Sigma work intriguing, and took a position with General Electric (GE, Fairfield, CT). At GE, she was a lead for the web services team. “Here I began my own journey toward becoming a Six Sigma black belt.”
The GE financial division became Genworth Financial, and Moody went with it. “While with Genworth Financial, I continued working toward my Six Sigma certification. I became an operations manager and oversaw our service delivery initiatives.”
Opportunities snowball at Lockheed Martin
Wanting to return to a more technical environment, Moody accepted an offer to come to Lockheed Martin IT as an IT systems and network analyst for a customer in the Pentagon. In her first year with Lockheed Martin she became a certified Six Sigma black belt. She also received her expert certification in Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a distinction that fewer than forty people in the corp-oration hold.
Moody was accepted into Lockheed Martin’s advanced technical leadership program (ATLP) in 2010. “In this program I was exposed to mentoring and training opportunities to help bolster my technical and leadership abilities,” she recalls.
While in the ATLP, she was selected to attend a technical roundtable mentoring program, where she was a part of a core team of top technical talent that created new models and uses for cloud platforms.
After graduating from ATLP, Moody was selected to head the technical leadership programs for the information systems and global defense and intelligence solutions division of Lockheed Martin. She is responsible for recruiting, retaining and developing the company’s top technical talent, and finding available rotations to stretch them into technical leaders.
In February she stepped into a new role with even broader responsibility as engineering and leadership technical lead of Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics division in Ft. Worth, TX.
Moody agrees that there are challenges to being a minority and a female in the defense industry. “This industry tends to be male-dominated and there is a need to prove your ability. There are the unspoken rules that go along with the territory, which everyone learns.”
Moody was selected as a 2011 rising technical star at the Women of Color in STEM Award conference.
Paramjit Singh works in flight simulation at CAE USA
“My career also happens to be my hobby,” says Paramjit Singh. Singh is a flight dynamics technical specialist in software engineering at CAE USA (Tampa, FL).
His interest in aerospace was sparked early by a first-grade field trip to an Indian army base. “Our teacher took us there to show us a helicopter that had flown in. And that was it. My mind was set to be around aerospace whether it was hobby, school or career. Fortunately I was competent enough for this education and career path and had parents, mentors and teachers who guided and supported me along this path.” Singh moved from India to the U.S. in 1975.
He earned his BS in aerospace engineering in 1984 at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering (Brooklyn, NY) and an MS in aeronautical engineering in 1985 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY).
Singh took his first job in 1985 as an engineer scientist for stability, control and flying qualities at McDonnell Douglas (Long Beach, CA). In 1988 he became a flight systems engineer III at Microflite Simulation International (Binghamton, NY). He helped develop, integrate and test flight dynamics simulation software.
Career destination: CAE
Singh came to CAE in 1991 and worked on a software reuse study as principal investigator. He was involved in re-evaluating coding standards, software structure, configuration management and software management for simulation software. He also participated in aero model validation, integration, testing and customer acceptance.
Today Singh’s primary responsibility is to produce, integrate and test flight dynamics software for flight simulators and support customer acceptance and qualification testing. This involves analysis of flight simulator results versus aircraft flight test data, as well as analysis of other flight simulator systems such as propulsion, flight controls, hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical, hardware, motion and visual.
Flight simulators are designed based on aircraft data, Singh explains, “so the first challenge is to identify and acquire aircraft data from the aircraft manufacturer and from other sub-component manufacturers. This is an interesting task which involves thorough knowledge of the aircraft and its systems, as well as communication with other manufacturers’ personnel.”
The other major challenge, he says, is integrating all the systems and establishing proper communication between these systems, so the flight simulator “functions as a musical composition.”
But these are challenges he welcomes and never takes for granted. “I am where I am because of my competency, guidance from those who noticed my interest and drive, and my amazing fortune.”
DIVERSITY-MINDED EMPLOYERS IN AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE
Check website for current listings.
|Company and location
|Aerojet Rocketdyne (Sacramento, CA)
|Rocket and missile propulsion systems
|Airbus Helicopter (Grand Prairie, TX)
|Helicopters for civilian and military markets
|Booz Allen Hamilton (McLean, VA)
|Management and technology consulting to the U.S.
|CACI (Arlington, VA)
|Information solutions and services for intelligence, defense and federal civilian customers
|CAE USA (Tampa, FL)
|Military flight simulators
|Eaton (Dublin, Ireland)
|ENSCO (Falls Church, VA)
|Engineering, science and advanced technology solutions for defense, transportation and intelligence sectors
|ENSCO Avionics (Endicott, NY)
|Safety and mission-critical engineering; software and
programmable hardware engineering; vision system solutions
|Exelis (McLean, VA)
|Aerospace, defense and information solutions
in C4ISR-related products and systems,
information and technical services for military, government and commercial customers
|General Dynamics Electric Boat (Groton, CT)
|Designs and builds nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy
|Harris Corporation (Melbourne, FL)
|Communications and IT products, systems
and services for government and commercial markets in the U.S. and abroad
|Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD)
|Advanced technology systems including
|Military Sealift Command (Washington, DC)
|Transportation services for the Department of Defense
|Nammo Talley (Mesa, AZ)
|High-tech ammunition and specialized
shoulder-fired weapons systems
|National Security Agency (Fort Meade, MD)
|Northrop Grumman (Falls Church, VA)
|Global security and cybersecurity
|Pratt & Whitney (East Hartford, CT)
|Aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units, small turbojet propulsion products
|United States Air Force Civilian Service
Joint Base San Antonio (Randolph, TX)
|Civilian services for the U.S. Navy
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