BAE Systems’ facility in Austin, Texas sits among a 140-acre plot of land enhanced with wildflower fields and busy honeybees. On the surface, it might seem more like a wildlife sanctuary than a site for the world’s third-largest defense contractor. But taking a step inside the site reveals that the real buzz is about new, high-tech jobs.
With more than 100 new faces on campus in just the last year, the site’s headcount stands at over 600 employees. That total is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, as we expand operations on campus to support new programs.
A growing innovation hub
The state of Texas ranks second among all states in the country for aerospace manufacturing and engineering jobs according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. BAE Systems has provided a key portion of those jobs for more than 60 years. We are now building on that legacy by adding some of the most skilled engineers and scientists in the state to solve some of the toughest technology challenges in defense.
As a leader in military aircraft countermeasures, our ALE-47 dispenser system is on more than 4,000 aircraft in over 30 countries. We are taking the next step in aircraft protection with the Smart D²™ system, which manages and deploys smart, expendable countermeasures.
With the U.S. Army’s selection of Austin as the location for its Futures Command, we are ready to do our part to help modernize the service with our growing work force. At the Army’s new Center for Defense Innovation inside Austin’s Capital Factory, we are partnering with startups and small businesses to accelerate the development of new defense technology for America’s military. And we are not stopping there; we will continue to innovate for a wide range of programs in the areas of autonomy, cyber, sensor development, and electronic warfare.
Factory of the future
That innovation extends into the production of our products, as we look to enhance our factory with innovative new capabilities. In the short term, we recently made $5 million in improvements on our factory floor to help improve workflow and maintain quality standards. We are also starting to research, pilot, and implement 3D printing, advanced robotics, digitization, and cyber manufacturing to shape our vision for the factory.
Those improvements have helped to accelerate the production of the thousands of APKWS® guidance kits at the site. The U.S. Navy recently placed a $225 million order for APKWS guidance kits and we will continue to help meet that demand, as we build toward an annual production level of more than 20,000 units.
Giving back to the community
As we grow in number, our involvement in the community also continues to expand. In the last year, we have donated nearly $70,000 to nonprofit organizations in Texas, while our employees volunteered more than 1,400 hours. Much of that support focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, as we strive to foster a talent pool for the future. During Girl Day at The University of Texas, we helped support hands-on STEM activities for more than 12,000 attendees including over 8,000 students. Our STEM activities continued at the Austin Energy Science Fair, as we volunteered, mentored, and helped judge projects for the event.
From the classroom to the fields of Texas bluebonnets, our commitment to the community runs deep. Since 2015, we have supported Texan by Nature (TxN), a nonprofit organization with a mission to bring business and conservation together. By working closely with the group, we created habitats to draw pollinators and wildlife such as the Monarch butterfly and honey bee.
Taking it a step further, we also made efforts to conserve water. This began by using reclaimed water in our air conditioning system, which helped save 10 million gallons of potable water per year. Additionally, we created a recycling program that allows 70 percent of everything we throw away to be reused, composted on site or diverted from the landfill. All of these efforts helped BAE Systems earn the Environmental Champion Award at last year’s Greater Austin Business Awards ceremony. We are honored to be recognized for our efforts thus far, and look forward to finding new ways to support the environment. We plan to hire over 100 new employees at our Austin site this year and are excited to share this part of our culture with them. As our expansion continues, we stand by our commitment to adding more jobs and remaining a center for innovation in Austin for years to come.