Hi Reddit! My name is Alex and I’m a robotics engineer at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories. I have worked on many exciting programs and have developed and tested algorithms for all types of autonomous unmanned vehicles, such as algorithms that enable swarming and manage energy usage. As a robotics engineer, I believe human-machine teams are going to make the world a better place! I also support many STEM outreach programs and I hope there are many students planning to become engineers. I have participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival and ATL’s Robotics Workshop. So, to help celebrate National Engineers Week, I’m answering your questions about what it’s like to work in robotics at Lockheed Martin. Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/LockheedMartin/status/833722933893746689

EDIT: That's all the time we have for today! Thanks for all the great questions. For more information on Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Lab where Alex works, visit: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/atl.html.

If you're interested in jobs at our Advanced Technology Lab, check out this link: http://jobs.lmt.co/3Q9xq 

Comments: 88 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

declanpearson12 karma

What did you study in college?

LockheedMartin19 karma

I studied Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science at Cornell University.

rickmuscles12 karma

What will be the most useful thing a robot will do in the next 5 years?

LockheedMartin11 karma

I believe in the next five years, robots will work alongside humans as teammates rather than being used as a tool. -Alex

BajaVelasco10 karma

What kind of hours do you work in a given week?

LockheedMartin8 karma

40 hours with occasional overtime - Alex

cbarland7 karma

Which qualities do you find the most important for an engineer to be successful at a large company like Lockheed Martin? Do you find that a student's GPA and test scores outweigh practical experience?

LockheedMartin8 karma

I think practical experience is a big factor in getting any position at Lockheed Martin. While academic performance is important, you should also demonstrate passion in the field you plan on working to be successful. -Alex

nafferly4 karma

I'm currently in school studying Computer Science with a focus in programming and software development. My goal is to work in the space development division of a company like Lockheed Martin. My question is - what path did you follow to get where you are and do you have any advice for someone like myself?

LockheedMartin8 karma

I did a lot of research and project teams while studying at Cornell. These opportunities gave me a lot of leadership and team collaboration experience, which I think is very important while working at a big company. Internships are great opportunities to find out what you like to do. A lot of the interns I work with transition to full time employees. If you want to get started at a company at Lockheed Martin start out with an internship or Co-Op. Here is something you might be interested in: http://jobs.lmt.co/3Q9xq -Alex

Nicehat353 karma

I'm currently studying mechanical engineering. I read you studied a minor in computer science, what made you want to work with robots in particular rather than airplanes? Also, what advice would you give to a prospective engineer? Thank you

LockheedMartin7 karma

Robotics is multi-disciplinary and brings together mechanical, software and electrical engineering. Robotics allows you to work with multiple platforms such as aerial, underwater or ground. To me, it felt like a better fit. - Alex

nathanfr3 karma

Have you worked on anything that's designed for use in extraterrestrial environments?

LockheedMartin7 karma

While I haven’t worked on anything at Lockheed Martin that’s space-related, in college I was part of a project team that sent a satellite into orbit. Check out the work Lockheed Martin does in space here: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/ssc/mars-orion.html –Alex

MofoSwaggins3 karma

As someone who is currently studying robotic engineering in college, what do you think is the best way to get experience (in the industry and practicals)?

LockheedMartin2 karma

Internships and summer opportunities are a great way to get experience. Also look for opportunities at your university to get hands-on experience with actual platforms. -Alex

whirlwind873 karma

Does that mean your part of SkunkWorks?

LockheedMartin3 karma

No, I work for Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/atl.html -Alex

andymus12 karma

Which project are you primarily working on currently?

LockheedMartin3 karma

I am currently working on control algorithms to enable swarms of autonomous platforms. -Alex

ghui3472 karma

Are all the robots that LM is working on autonomous? If not, are the robots typically controled using a controller?

LockheedMartin2 karma

Controlling robots with a controller is what we call teleoperation. The work that I do is more focused on making autonomous robots. -Alex

everso173671 karma

Hi Alex! What books or games do you recommend for young children who are interested in robots and engineering? What was your favourite, as a child?

LockheedMartin1 karma

As a kid, my favorite thing to play with were Erector sets! "Tiny Robots" by Kathryn Clay features my co-worker Dave Sharp showing off the Samarai platform on page 20. - Alex

alamuki1 karma

Hi Alex! Non-engineer, syfy fan here.
I was looking at your job openings page and saw the human factors researcher position description.

Are you guys trying to make cyborgs? Serious question. Having a specialist in cognitive behavior seems that you are trying to go beyond a human-machine team where they would be a tool but also go into realm of companionship. More of a team mate than a work partner.

I mean, I find that robots fascinating but for some reason the more human like they are, the further into the uncanny valley I fall.

LockheedMartin1 karma

I know the human factor researchers here are aiming to develop better human machine teams. Understanding cognitive behavior is important to develop the best possible teammates. -Alex

abadgirl921 karma

Hi Alex, what are your favorite things to do outside of the office?

LockheedMartin1 karma

Board games with my roommate! Shout out to my roommate, MT! -Alex

CiforDayZServer1 karma

Do you have a shortlist of key books or publications novices or those interested in learning robotics should read?

LockheedMartin2 karma

To keep up with the current trends in robotics, I like to read: http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics -Alex

GreenishOnReddit1 karma

What time is it where you are?

LockheedMartin1 karma

1:59 p.m. EST - Alex

Zircon881 karma

As an industrial chemist in Europe, what is the best way of landing a decent role at an awesome company like yours?

LockheedMartin1 karma

Go to the Lockheed Martin careers page to find careers that interest you. Good luck! Here's a link to get you started: http://www.lockheedmartinjobs.com/science-research-development.aspx -Alex

abadgirl921 karma

Is working at Lockheed Martin a great place for Women of Color?

LockheedMartin1 karma

Working at Lockheed Martin is a GREAT place to work for everyone! I'm going to the Asian American Engineer of the Year Awards in Seattle, WA this weekend! -Alex

eagleth1 karma

How do i make sure that I get a similar job?

I am a junior studying mechanical engineering, but I don't currently have a plan for a minor (working on that right now actually). I have been in robotics clubs since middle school, and I'm on the mechanical team for the Autonomous underwater vehicle team. I'm decent with solidworks, and I already know that I need to work more on coding. I want to work with animatronics, manufacturing, or exploration. Any tips for me?

Also, my college is close enough to a lockheed martin facility that planes constantly fly over my apartment.

LockheedMartin1 karma

You're on the right track! My advice to you would be to get your hands dirty in some internships for real world experiences. Best of luck! -Alex

derperyo1 karma

How are you making your technology more beneficial to the environment? Are you developing different types of energy?

LockheedMartin2 karma

While I don’t do much with energy in my job directly, Lockheed Martin is definitely working in the renewable energy space. You can read more about that here:  http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/what-we-do/energy.html -Alex

XonikzD1 karma

It is my hope that within the next five years I'll be able to buy a robot butler to help out around the garage/workshop/house and also gain access to modular replacement parts for said butler robots. Basically, are we going to get an appliance or will we be forced to treat the robot like a friend? I just need a couple robot interns; not Bobby, your best friend butler.

LockheedMartin2 karma

I want a robot that will cook for me! -Alex

qunow1 karma

As robots start becoming more and more helpful in human society with increasingly important role, some people might start getting sentimental against robots, how wouod designer of robots reduce such sentiment?

LockheedMartin2 karma

We are working on how to build trust in human-robot teams. Having something as simple as Amazon Echo in your apartment is the first step to normalizing human-machine interaction. -Alex

franklyimaperson1 karma

What is your opinion on technical certificates? Do you feel that they properly prepare people for the work that they would be doing at Lockheed? Or does the company more rely on internal training

LockheedMartin2 karma

Here at the Advanced Technology Laboratories, getting a graduate degree is more relevant and common than technical certificates, but I don’t know how it is for the rest of the company. -Alex