August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Main Feature

The father of invention

Curiosity, along with a drive for excellence, led Andy Wu to become a prolific inventor

Andy WuNewly appointed Senior Technical Fellow Yeong-Wei (Andy) Wu didn’t plan to be one of Boeing’s most prolific inventors. He just has a strong sense of curiosity—and a natural drive to pursue excellence.

“I get in the habit of not taking anything for granted. I always try to figure out how other people develop things—and see how I can do better,” Wu said. Such efforts have put Wu’s name—as well as those of other Boeing colleagues—on 35 issued patents with nine more pending. Each of these patents provides Boeing a competitive advantage—some so key they’ve helped the company win major contracts.

A 23-year veteran of Boeing and its predecessor company, the space and communications business of Hughes Aircraft Company, Wu said his strong engineering and academic background give him the skills to clearly understand a problem, reduce it to mathematical form and then formulate a solution.

Inventing, however, “is just part of” his work at Boeing, Wu said. Currently, he is a chief engineer for Flight Engineering and Verification for the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif., a unit of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

Working at a large technology company such as Boeing allows Wu to stay stimulated: Every five years or so he likes to tackle a new technological challenge, one that builds on his knowledge and experience.

Wu’s career at Boeing mirrors this. He’s worked on a progression of interrelated, increasingly difficult engineering challenges, developing line-of-sight pointing and stabilization technologies for airborne sensors, then spaceborne sensors, and finally stellar inertial attitude determination (SAID) technologies for spacecraft attitude control. Spaceway, the first Boeing satellite with an advanced SAID spacecraft control system, was launched in April. The technology, which uses star trackers to help keep satellites pointed accurately at the earth, is performing as designed, Wu said.

Ron Cubalchini, a former colleague of Wu’s who is now at Raytheon, said, “He’s best at looking at new, unusual problems, understanding what’s really going on in the background, and figuring out a solution. He’s always coming up with practical solutions to difficult problems.”

Currently, Wu is working on the U.S. Air Force’s Transformational Satellite Communications program, supporting the development of pointing, acquisition, and tracking functions for next-generation laser communication systems. He also is working in a new—but related—area of airborne antenna acquisition and tracking for the Air Force’s Family of Advanced, Beyond-Line-of-Site Terminals program, known as FAB-T. These wideband satellite communications terminals will provide the military with protected communications.

His election to Senior Technical Fellow is only icing on the cake for Wu, who holds a doctorate in electrical sciences from the State University of New York, has twice received the prestigious Boeing Special Invention Award, and was named Asian American Engineer of the year in 2003.

“When Boeing purchased Hughes and created the Technical Fellows program, I thought that was perfect,” according to Wu. “I said, ‘Now my colleagues and I can contribute globally.’”

Although he has his hands full with his current assignments, Wu typically is looking for his next challenge. He’s particularly interested in getting more involved with commercial or military aircraft flight control systems.

—Paul Proctor

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