What We Do

Frontiers November 2015 Issue

WHAT WE DO Virtual vision Immersive Development team’s ‘playground for engineers’ sparks innovation, answers BY BRIAN CARBREY, AS TOLD TO JOANNA LEATH As technical lead for the Immersive Development Environment (ImDev) in St. Louis, part of the Phantom Works organization, Brian Carbrey and his team apply virtual capabilities to help Boeing create innovative new products and solve problems across its customer base. In the late ’70s, my parents brought me to St. Louis when the space shuttle came to McDonnell Douglas, carried on the back of a modified 747. When I saw the shuttle on the ramp … that was cool. It was the most complex engineering system humans had ever built. And it was right in front of me. I was 8 years old. I turned to my dad and said, “I wanna do that.” And I do. Aerospace ignites a passion in me and now, with my ImDev team, I help bring people together for the common cause of developing the future of aerospace. We’re giving Boeing teams the tools and collaborative environment they need to create what’s next. When we first started out, we were only looking at how to create new military products. Since then, we’ve realized that virtual reality can be applied at every step of the product life cycle, on products all across the enterprise. Since realizing this, things have been crazy. It’s been amazing. Many of the teams we work with use the Computer Aided Visualization Environment, or CAVE. It is a small, dark room where we project high-definition, stereoscopic 3-D life-size product images. Forget about PowerPoint charts—we can virtually put customers into the product on day one. Instead of having to physically build parts to see if they work together, I show teams how to turn drawings into life-size, virtual versions of the product in a matter of minutes. It allows people to evaluate parts and products long 10 BOEING FRONTIERS before cutting metal and saves weeks, sometimes months, of time. The other part that keeps us busy is the motion-capture area. With today’s technologies we have “neighbors” who live halfway around the world and I wanted to apply this principle to product development. Our goal was to connect people: People to people, people to product. So, we created an environment where people can enter into a virtual reality as an avatar, regardless of where they are. It allows us to interact in real time with products that may or may not already be built, with people all over the globe. Seeing teams work together to advance aerospace is a beautiful thing, and I get to see it every day. When I was a kid, I was always looking up. I wanted to know what was out there, what was up there. That’s what still motivates me today. I want to know what’s out there. I want to know how fast we can go. We built ImDev to help teams answer those questions. With ImDev we essentially created a playground for engineers. I see the young person come out of these men and women using it. It’s pure passion and I love seeing that sparked. It helps them think differently. It’s a place where people come together and realize: We can do this. It’s a place where we figure out: What’s next? What else can we do? It’s the “what’s next” piece that gets me. I was inspired by the people who came before me to do what I do. The men and women who put the space shuttle on that ramp in St. Louis when I was 8 did that. We have to invoke that passion in the next generation so they can show us what’s next. That’s my responsibility. Our innovation can change people’s lives. And I don’t take that lightly. n JOANNA.M.LEATH@BOEING.COM


Frontiers November 2015 Issue
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