Employee Spotlight: Engineer Greg Procopio Paved The Way For Deep Mission Understanding In Theater
An engineer’s time in the field solidified the future of mission understanding.
As a young engineer, Greg Procopio didn’t imagine his work would lead him to examining aircraft wreckage, digging through artifacts, and trying to put together the pieces of an incident, not unlike a crime scene investigation. However, Greg’s experience integrating aircraft protection systems onto military platforms led him to the opportunity of a lifetime – one that had a significant impact on how he viewed his work at BAE Systems and allowed him to help save lives.
A graduate of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., Greg joined BAE Systems as part of the Engineering Leadership Development Program (ELDP) – a company initiative that provides leadership opportunities and training to new hires. As an ELDP participant, he began working on a technology that warns and protects pilots from incoming enemy attacks, known as Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) and Advanced Threat Infrared Counter Measures (ATIRCM).
As a result of his experience with these systems, Greg was invited to be part of a U.S. Army assessment team to address a number of incidents where aircraft were shot down by an unknown weapon system in 2003. That year, Greg went to Iraq to investigate the scenes of the aircraft shot down by enemy fire. He and a team of experts spent the next two months going through wreckage, examining where and how the aircraft was hit, and how to prevent other aircraft from meeting a similar fate. They reassembled the aircraft and examined the scene to determine what enemy weapon system was used and exactly how the aircraft was impacted as a result.
“Afterward, I had the opportunity to brief the generals in theater and bring forward our recommendations, one of which was installing CMWS technology onto the aircraft,” Greg recalled.
Because the system was needed so urgently, Greg’s goal when he returned to the United States was to develop ways to install CMWS even faster than the original plan. His second and third visits to Iraq involved integrating these warning systems onto aircraft and teaching pilots how to use them.
“This gave me a unique perspective in understanding the user and what they need and how things work in terms of overseas deployment – so it helped in a lot of the engineering I did after that,” he described. In his current role as a program manager, Greg still applies his in-theater experience to much of what he does.
Greg’s involvement as part of the assessment team helped pave the way for other BAE Systems’ employees to spend time in the field with soldiers, getting to know their issues and how to address their needs with new technologies – an activity that today has become a common practice for product development teams trying to achieve deep mission understanding and effective results.
According to Greg, his interactions with the pilots during his third trip to Iraq left a particularly lasting impression on him.
“I had a couple of pilots approach me saying, ‘We got shot at and your system saved my life,’” he said. “It definitely gave me a different outlook on why I get up and go to work every day.”