What’s next? Engineers predict the future

Imagine a flying car that brings you to work: this technology and others may be closer than you think.

Imagine a flying car that brings you to work!

It may sound far off, but BAE Systems engineers like Kelly Moran believe this technology and others are closer than you think.

Innovation drives our global future and BAE Systems is proud to partner with organizations that inspire the engineers of tomorrow – MATHCOUNTS and FIRST Robotics. This week is Engineers Week (February 21-27), and we are partnering with MATHCOUNTS on an engineering-themed math “Problem of the Day.” Participation is open to all and everyone who submits an answer to at least one problem will be entered into a prize drawing, even if they don't get correct answers. We encourage you to check out these special Engineers Week math problems and share them with family, friends and educators in your community. It's never too late to have fun with math and flex your problem-solving skills!

BAE Systems is also a strategic partner of FIRST Robotics whose innovation challenge will be virtual this year, fostering among students a sense of teamwork during a pandemic, and excitement for learning about engineering.

At BAE Systems we have many kinds of engineers including systems, mechanical, software, hardware, electrical, chemical, and product safety engineers – as well as those who work with them.

 

What kind of engineer should you become?

 

We asked engineers across BAE Systems about what they do and if they had any advice for those thinking of pursuing engineering careers. “Always understand the why,” says Principal Systems Engineer Timothy Coda, who advises “question and understand the big picture of what you do as an engineer.”

It’s not surprising that continual learning is a theme among our engineers. Moran, a chemical engineer who leads energetics research at the Radford Army Ammunition plant, said she wanted a career where she would “never stop learning and could positively influence the way people live.”  Engineering Technologist Charith Wickrema says “learning doesn’t stop once you leave college” and points to the importance of on the job experience.

Engineers across the company say you don’t have to pick just one interest:

  • “Don’t believe that you have to stay within your degree to find what you ultimately love to do.” - Lesley Miley, Senior Principal Systems Engineer for the F35 program
  • “Diversify your interests.” - Timothy Ma, Senior Engineer working on next generation products in the ICBM field
  • “Expand your comfort zone to challenge yourself in a way that makes you uncomfortable.”  - Kimberly Gray, AWS/SWS Documentation Manager
  • “Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to take risks.” - Dwight Chandler, Senior Engineering Manager for the F35 Program
 
 

What’s next in engineering?

 

We also asked these and other engineers across BAE Systems to imagine the future and what’s next in their fields. Here is what they told us:

Looking forward, BAE will leverage cutting-edge technology to integrate the totality of engineering design simulation, automating the exchange of data across models in a robust, repeatable simulation workflow.

The role of a product safety engineer is vital to ensure we deliver safe products to the end users, particularly as the evolution of the autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technology continues to advance.
 

Using modernized tools, we are automating pipelines for developing and testing secure software systems, increasing product quality and shortening time to delivery….Enabled by a cloud infrastructure, an enterprise-wide Technology Stack will be made available providing the infrastructure, tools, software, models and simulations needed to digitally iterate a product through its full lifecycle.”

In order to stay competitive we need to ensure our staffs have the opportunity to engage in the new technology.
 

Enabling tools and technologies like augmented reality will become more commonplace, provide greater adaptability and shorten product development times. Enhancing the digital connectivity of our data, tools and processes will be essential for developing and maintaining our products throughout the lifecycle.

Today, there are several phases of development before we get to the point of launching a product. Although the projects are constantly changing, our main mission is to improve overall processes. In order to better set us up for future projects, we are working on a tool for component leveraging that will eliminate the need for recreating the wheel on many of our basic, everyday needs. This will be an important development in creating a more efficient P2L cycle. Additionally, we are working multiple contributions toward furthering BAE Systems’ transition to digital engineering across the product life cycle.
 

Most applicable AI today is in doing menial tasks over and over again. Current Deep Neural Networks are leading the AI world by creating truly brilliant level intellect. While it is still based on calculations and transistors in a box, the output can be seen as genius creativity, and it can philosophically redefine what human originality and innovation actually mean.

Having the ability to train aircraft maintainers across the globe virtually with the experience of feeling like they are inside the aircraft. We could also use it for problem solving with a virtual experience of what is occurring in the field.
 

I believe we will see “flying cars” sometime in my lifetime. A cross between a plane and a drone capable of carrying human traffic autonomously. I will patiently await for the day when a four hour car ride can become a 30 minute “personal flight.”

Today, cybersecurity engineering is often developed as an add-on to product development. Real security should be baked in, not bolted on.
 

We’re going to find ourselves presented with digital tools that will, in a few years, replace the current “office suite” of presentation/spreadsheet/word processing/SharePoint tools with a much more integrated and “automated” environment. We will put our information into tools that may “smell” like a word processor or spreadsheet or presentation tool, but it will in fact be capturing the data in relational databases and models of structured or unstructured data.

The increase of connected devices and digital dependence is set to spread exponentially, causing us to have to reimagine how we are able to not only handle the influx of digital information, but successfully harness the power of it.