Career Story: Senior Computer Engineer At A Large Defense Contractor

Senior Computer Engineer At A Large Defense Contractor

Job Title: Senior Computer Engineer - Director Of Advanced Technologies

Education: BS in Biochemistry & Computer Science - Trinity College •• MS in Computer Engineering - University of Rhode Island •• MBA in Technology - University of Phoenix

Previous Experience: I was hired out of college and worked 14 years in the industry. five years were with a large defense contractor and 10 years were with the current company.

Job Tasks: My company is a large defense contractor specializing in Intelligence and Information (IIS) Systems and Network Centric Systems (NCS). IIS provides solutions that enable intelligence professionals to obtain and decipher timely information that is key to our national security. NCS develops and produces mission solutions for networking, command and control, battlespace awareness, and air traffic management.

As the Director of Advanced Technology, I have a group of computer professionals and support staff who work for and with me. I am responsible for hiring, transferring, recruiting or creating the team necessary to perform the specified job. Our team mainly works with identifying proposals which require advanced technology and creating a prototype working system validating the use of the technology for the job.

I am also responsible for a 2-3 year advanced technology strategic plan which maps future technology and where we want to target it to maximize corporate profitability, performance and efficiency.

A typical day on the job would entail several different portions of my position. I might review dozens of resumes and return them to the human resources (HR) department specifying who to bring in to interview. (This number is governed by how many open positions we have). It would entail reviewing the progress of work my staff is performing toward building and/or constructing a prototype. It would entail research into where technology is headed and finding, joining, and/or presenting at seminars for networking and information reasons. It would entail publishing and/or presenting information inside my company to enlighten my co-workers on new technology. It would entail performance reviews, salary determinations and other staff management tasks

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: This job rocks! Staying abreast of the latest technology is a treat. To be in charge of where the company is headed is challenging intellectually as well as managerially. Playing with the latest technology and working with top people in the industry is exciting.

On the down side is the politics of any organization. The infighting, the nasty competition, the importance of being politically correct before being technically correct can be frustrating. Also, supervising a number of people has its downsides and is tediously time consuming.

Job Tips:
1. Continue to stay current in your field - whether with additional schooling or networking groups. there's no such thing as too much education. (I wanted to quit grad school so many times to be a forest ranger, but it's -12 degrees F and I'm in a nice warm HOME office making enough to afford a vacation to any forest I want).

2. Do NOT let the politics of the place get to you - but DO negotiate the politics intelligently.

3. Enjoy what you do. If you don't, change your profession.

4. If you are going into management, BE a people person. CARE about your staff. Treat them as human beings with lives of their own and not as extensions of yourself. Make sure they know how important they are to you, the project and reward them as well as you can. Loyalty is irreplaceable.


Additional Thoughts: Try to stay well rounded. Everything in the world influences everything else.

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