An internship at Rockwell Collins became a career for Shaun Humes. The Chicago area native is now a Government Platform Systems Engineer in the cargo and transportation solutions department. Every day Humes solves puzzles to ensure that transport aircrafts are able to maintain communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management performance worldwide. Since the age of four, Humes knew he wanted to be involved in the operation of aircraft. Thanks to the foundation he received as a student, both in and out of the classroom, now Humes is living his passion.
Describe a typical day. What are your job duties?
A typical day at work begins in the office at my computer where, depending on the program, I may be drafting avionics architectures for a new program, capturing or creating requirements, reviewing contractual documents for submission to a customer, or creating system test documents. However, most of my time is spent in the systems integration laboratory (SIL). The SIL is a mockup of nearly the entire flight deck or cockpit of an aircraft along with entire racks of avionics equipment that are normally in the avionics bays of the aircraft. In the SIL we verify the systems architecture that we design by testing to requirements and demonstrating key concepts of the solution. The equipment we interact with most are the glass multi-functional displays, control display units, and various communication, navigation, and surveillance units. Since no product in perfect, a lot of my time is spent finding issues in the design and troubleshooting their root causes. Toward the end of the program we will provide support services from the SIL to our customers as they flight test with our end product. Besides design and test work, every few months or so my job also calls me to travel in joint efforts with the marketing team to promote and sell our products to potential customers around the world.
What is your favorite part about the job?
The part of my job I enjoy the most is what we call the Integration Phase. This time allows us to test and check the system we worked for months or sometimes a year to design for the very first time. Our solutions are very complex, so when they are first powered on and begin to work it is a very rewarding time. Integration Phase is also a great time to solve the “puzzle” that is wiring faults and software errors that we attempt to eradicate before entering into our formal testing process.
What is the most valuable thing you learned as an aerospace engineering undergraduate?
As an aerospace engineering undergrad at ISU I learned the three key skills that I believe any engineer needs to succeed and that is organization, critical thinking, and perseverance. No matter where your career may take you, some form of organization is a must to solve the complex problems of the world. Critical thinking is important as it is vital for sparking innovation and always being able to find the solution to an issue. At some point or another in your career you will meet that one program, task, research problem, or person(s) that challenges you day in and out for the entire duration, and the only way you will get through it is to persevere and keep performing.
What do you know now that you wish you had known as an undergrad?
The world is truly a big place. Engineering and technology on a whole is becoming a global effort more and more every single day and seeing how different cultures develop products and do business is vital to future success in the S.T.E.M. fields.
As a student, what did you like to do outside of classes?
Outside of school, I was involved in music production. I love being creative with sounds and exploring the various technologies in the production of dance and urban music. I was also involved in SAE Aero, AIAA DBF, and M:2:I. All great programs for practicing what is learned in aerospace engineering undergrad courses.