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Frontiers May 2014 Issue

The bigger picture ROBERT STUART Rob Stuart was introduced to an engineering career as a high school sophomore—when his math and physics teachers sat him down and told him that’s what he was going to do when he grew up. It was an example of how the right teacher at the right time can make a world of difference, Stuart said. “I wasn’t very good at math, but I had a good mechanical mind,” Stuart said. “Somehow, those teachers, they saw that in me.” Stuart grew up on a cattle farm in Arkansas. He learned his skills by helping his father fix and maintain machinery. He then earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas. Since then, Stuart has been living the dream as an aerospace systems engineer at Boeing. Based in Huntsville, Ala., he has done much of his work on a variety of space programs, and is currently the lead for Space Launch System stages product development. He also played a pivotal role in resolving technical issues surrounding the 787’s lithium ion batteries. “I set myself up to learn a broad base of knowledge,” he said about his career path. “Systems engineering requires an understanding of the bigger picture and being able to think from several technical disciplines. And it’s exciting.” n PHOTO: ERIC SHINDELBOWER/BOEING candace.k.barron@boeing.com Creativity in technology TIM MURPHY In college, Tim Murphy started out perfectly happy as a Fine Arts major until he took a 100-level class called “electronic music.” “I thought we were going to be listening to Pink Floyd albums for college credit,” he recalled. “But it turned out to be a pretty serious electrical engineering class.” The professor was a synthesizer enthusiast, and the class was Murphy’s introduction to theoretical concepts such as frequency and amplitude modulation. It was the first time that he realized engineering could be a creative endeavor. Even though Murphy was not particularly drawn to math, he engrossed himself in studying technical papers about FM synthesis and in doing computer-generated music experiments. After a couple of years, he changed his major to electrical engineering. Murphy, now an expert in satellite navigation, communication and surveillance, has spent nearly 30 years in aerospace technology. But he still holds a fondness for the arts. He is a keyboardist in a jazz band that gigs regularly. He plays guitar and sings. His expertise extends to pottery, too. “But I enjoy being creative with technology as well,” he said. n PHOTO: MARIAN LOCKHART/BOEING candace.k.barron@boeing.com Frontiers May 2014 39


Frontiers May 2014 Issue
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