Next week, Autotestcon 2013 begins in Schaumberg, Ill. If you aren’t familiar with this conference, its aim is to address the interests of military/aeronautic and government attendees and participants. I have learned some fascinating things at this conference in the past.
This year, on one of the executive panels, Marvin Test Solutions’ CEO, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Steve Sargeant, will be talking about test trends. I had the opportunity to meet Steve earlier this summer, and he filled me in on the changes at his company. We also talked at length about his career so far in test, and he gamely agreed to be my next candidate for my Profiles in Test series on EDN. Here’s an excerpt from our interview for you.
Janine: What do you find fascinating about engineering/test?
Steve: It is exciting to hear from young airmen/soldiers what they are trying to do to maintain something they love: airplane, helicopter, etc. They turn to our engineers with their problems, and then I get to watch the “wheels start grinding.” Our engineers start to frame a solution, and then they stop and ask lots of questions about the deployments. That’s a really nice thing about Marvin Test Solutions -- I get to see engineers make that solution real. They are making the test (maintenance, sustainment, production test) easier.
Marvin Test Solutions CEO Steve Sargeant
Janine: What did you think we’d be able to do now that we still can’t?
Steve: I thought we would be able to reduce the footprint on the flight line even further so armament testing could be embedded into the aircraft. It was promised. It was dreamt about, but not yet achieved. The F22 was supposed to be like this. I believe at some point we should be able to develop embedded test to check continuity of circuitry and ensure that the MILSPEC1760 bus is functionally tested before it is loaded with weapons.
Janine: Any advice for new engineers?
Steve: Find a mentor. While I was still on active duty, I set up an intern program with the USAF Academy. Students would join the Air Force Operations & Evaluation Test Command to serve with our test engineers, designers, and programmers, so they could see the demands as well as the excitement in the test world. Now in the commercial space, I encourage experienced engineers to take on leadership and mentorship roles with each intern at Marvin Test Solutions. If you are still in college, find an internship program so you can experience what test engineering is all about. If you find that it is for you, do well in your internship program and you will be well on your way to your first job!