Friday, March 22, 2013

Exploring the Power of Innovation

I helped “rethink” engineering
by Paul P.

Decades ago, it took about four hours to set up for a vibration test. In 1962, Lockheed received government funding for automated equipment, which saved Lockheed over $1 million a year for tests on the Polaris receiving inspection. I was able to expand the control center to include the production area of Building 182. Later, management expanded it to control all vibration tests at Sunnyvale, California. 

In 1994, it was proposed that thermal cycling of black boxes during electronic tests be increased from 15 cycles to 30 cycles. NASA provided $50,000 of funding to do a complete study which proved that thermal cycling is not useful. Because of my efforts, I was named Lockheed’s “man of the year,” and received a cash prize for my efforts.

Lockheed received a multi-billion dollar contract for SBIRS, mainly due to an extensive study conducted by Steve Golly and me to discount enemy launches. We were able to reduce the size of the system by two satellites. Steve and I each received a cash prize from the program for our efforts. 

A computer program called GAP looks at the probability of failure for each satellite out to the design life of the satellite. I discovered that satellites last longer than their design life. Therefore, I developed a computer program to take this into consideration and saved over $1 billion dollars on just one program.