IR&D Principal Investigator / Project Manager
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Valley Forge, PA
Jul 2009-Nov 2010
I was hired out of the ETC at CMU by the Enterprise Integration Group within Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Services division. They were impressed with the work I had done for another client, WMS Gaming, in my final semester of graduate school. Lockheed brought me on board to support some work they were doing with the Chief Technology Office to incorporate gaming technology into their bag of tricks. This was an Independent Research and Development (IRAD) project called Serious Games. The thought at the time was that integrating gaming technology into their systems could provide a level of 3D visualization and intuitive interaction to Lockheed’s platforms that was currently missing. Here’s a good example:
My team developed extensions and scenarios within Bohemia Interactive’s Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2) that enabled us to federate into a large scale simulation of a hypothetical battle for the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF). We were able to pull in units and signals from over a dozen different simulators for individual vehicles or weapons systems, many of which had interfaces that looked like this:
We were able to provide a comprehensive view of all of these disparate simulators within an interactive 3D platform that looked like this:
Needless to say we were providing a much more intuitive view of the scenario than the glorified spreadsheets that a lot of the simulators displayed. We caught one participant sneaking peeks at our screen. He was testing a mobile device that provided situational awareness to dismounted infantry (soldiers on foot). After questioning him, he told us that he was using our system to verify what his device was telling him. His system provided a text interface to the warfighter, but he could look right up on our screen and see that the F16s he had called in for support had taken out the enemy tanks. He trusted our system to verify his because it seemed closer to reality, with its 3D models and fiery explosions. We were on to something here.
Around the same time, I also began leading a second IRAD project that was aimed at creating a platform for using games to solve hard problems called Webgames. Essentially we were interested in crowdsourcing using gaming technology. We were intrigued by the countless hours and depth of the strategy that people put into popular online games such as Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. If we could harness this type of behavior to slay dragons in the real world and solve hard problems, we’d have an endless source of free labor.
We ended up utilizing the Unity 3D game engine to develop what is possibly the most boring game of all time. In the game, players escape from a fire within a 3D mockup of one of Lockheed’s buildings. We created a virtual fire drill. Yawn.
The important part of this project, however, was hidden behind the scenes. We developed scripts to capture player decisions and interfaces to make sense of this data later. By analyzing the whole population of player data, we could find problems areas in the building layout and evacuation plans. ”Maybe this confusing intersection needs larger signage…” And maybe we needed larger problems to try this type of analysis on….
I also had the opportunity to lead several student teams from my alma mater during my time with Lockheed Martin. It was a fantastic experience, because I knew exactly what to expect from the students and how to push them in the right ways to accomplish our goals, having been in their shoes once already. We used the student teams for a variety of bleeding edge research projects that helped us to make decisions about which avenues to follow without having to use our own internal team. Here’s some of the highlights:
The Physion team looked at using biofeedback sensors as input devices for interactive experiences. Essentially they were able to create feedback loops that could adjust settings within their game based on the physiological state of the player. For example, the targeting reticle would get smaller if your concentration increased; a heartbeat sound effect would get louder if your pulse rose too quickly. To make it even more immersive, players used a handheld light gun within a CAVE Environment, providing 270 degrees of visual interface.
The Immersive Vision team explored the benefits of using stereoscopic 3D display technology within the context of data analysis. They used the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) as a dataset and created a program where users could analyze relationship webs of actors and their roles. Think of it as 3D version of 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Multimedia Designer / Producer / Team Lead
The SI Organization, Inc
Valley Forge, PA
Nov 2010-Dec 2012
This position is really an extension of my previous position with Lockheed Martin. My division, the Enterprise Integration Group, was divested to a private equity firm. This meant that we would be doing the same type of work with the same folks, just under a different title.
Unfortunately, much of the intellectual property for the projects we were working on stayed with Lockheed Martin, as did much of the budget for advanced research and development. I needed to adapt to survive.
Early on I identified a vacuum left by the divestiture that our team could fill. When we left the LM mothership, our new company, the SI Organization, lost a lot of the corporate services we relied on. The one that I felt I could fill best was media services.
I jumped in with both feet, and began producing videos for different organizations across the new company. I did promotional videos, recruiting videos, informative video captures of lunchtime learning sessions and video blog segments from the executive team.
I have led the charge in terms of:
- conceptual development
- storyboarding and scripting
- coordinating with stakeholders, talent, digital artists, and shooting crews
- researching, acquiring, and managing equipment
- digital asset management including a SharePoint repository library
- video and audio editing
- video and audio post production
- visual effects and motion graphic design
- distribution mechanisms including streaming and media server management
I was basically a one man video wrecking crew, able to crush whole projects with a single blow. Here’s a couple of examples of of the videos we made:
This video work was widely appreciated, especially my ability to get quick turnarounds and make changes rapidly for stakeholders that didn’t always know what they wanted. I personally was awarded two Special Recognition Awards and four Spot Awards for performance above and beyond the call of duty.
I didn’t let the change of scenery cut off the flow of my innovation juices, however. I actively sought out ways to contribute new ideas and always participated in calls for submissions for new business ideas. I even placed 5th in the first annual SI Innovation Tournament for my idea Crowd Sourced Gaming Simulation:
The general idea is that we can create a social game platform on top of already existing simulators that model border patrol assets to crowdsource solutions for our national border security. And here’s one more pitch I did for SwarmSweep:
The premise of this one is to use cheap hexapod robots and Xbox Kinect depth cameras to automagically generate 3D maps of secure facilities or other areas of interest (e.g. military bases, embassies). These maps could be compared across time to find changes that might indicate threats like IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Think of it as a team of Roombas that work together to sniff out bombs.
During my time with the SI Organization, I also volunteered to help with some of the branding activities for our fledgling company. I participated in roundtables to make decisions about how the company would present itself to the outside world. I also researched our competitors to find ways we could differentiate ourselves from the crowd and presented strategies to senior leadership.