Q: Is the point solution going to be cheaper and better than software-defined radio? A: Yes.
Q: Does the manufacturer reconfigure, or does the operator do that? A: The radio does it by itself.
Q: How much red force or outside threats do you factor into your research and development? A: Quite a bit; we try to vector threats into our production and technology and regularly consult with people in the field (engineers in the battle-space) for design. We also have cleared staff that can work on classified projects.
Q: Is there an opportunity for photonics in the front end? A: Yes, small power.
Q: What fraction of radios are software defined? A: Somewhere in the 25 percent range are software defined, and it is not growing fast.
Q: How far behind Android and iPhone are the military? A: Not that far.
Q: What is U.S. technology vulnerability in your field? A: The biggest concern is what the Department of Defense (DoD) is doing to develop requirements. DoD acquisition managers are developing requirements that may not be realistic. Instead of engineers, there are people who lack the technology expertise to develop proper requirements. They have business majors instead of engineers working on this, people who do not have the necessary expertise. People need intuition, knowledge, and experience to create effective requirements.
Q: What percentage of Rockwell Collins engineers are foreign nationals? A: It has no foreign nationals; most of the engineers have projects that involve work requiring a clearance.
Prompted by questions and exchanges among participants, Newgard made the following general comments: Our biggest concern going forward is the skill set, not the technology. It is more about having the engineers who are capable of doing what needs doing, and being passionate about it. Yes, Rockwell Collins is having problems hiring qualified candidates, and now tends to grow its own people (e.g., hire engineers while they are going through college, use internships, and then train them). Also, a large portion of the Rockwell Collins engineering design team is going to retire in the next decade. We need capable engineers who are “committed experts.” Regarding the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) process, there are many problems that involve one hand not talking to another. F-22s don’t talk well to legacy systems. The Navy builds systems that do not talk to the Army’s. On top of that, the FAR process does not allow a lot of critical thinking to determine effective tradeoffs (make tough calls with limited resources). And when the requirement developers lack engineering experience, it creates a somewhat confusing environment that inhibits innovative thinking.
Timothy Hancock, assistant group leader, Analog Device Technology, Lincoln Laboratory, MIT, was the first speaker. He was followed by Yahya Ramat-Samii, Northrop Grumman Chair in Electromagnetics at UCLA, who spoke by phone.
Hancock reviewed trends in the use of antennas that enable improved communications, data transfer, soldier health monitoring, and methods of data collection. He briefly described techniques for overt and covert methods of standoff data collection (e.g., reduce transmitted power and energy per bit, mitigate or exploit in-band interference), noting that it would be good to get away from the concept of “that’s my band, so don’t use it.” Turning to multiple-input, mutiple-output (MIMO) wireless systems, he introduced the approaches of spatial multiplexing, diversity coding, and pre-coding and then pointed out several advantages of MIMO (e.g., improved data transfer from or to a disadvantaged transmitter or receiver and mitigating interference). Challenges in implementing MIMO systems include the design of antennas, receivers, and transmitters; much computing power and math are involved.
3Unless specifically stated otherwise, the speaker answered all questions.