Lockheed Martin’s number one priority is our customer. Our tagline is “Lockheed Martin. Your Mission is Ours.” We solve complex challenges, advance scientific discovery, and deliver innovative solutions to help our customers keep people safe. At Lockheed Martin (LM) Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) we offer the vital capabilities needed to provide our service men and women and civilian customers the products and services they need in their defining moments. MFC is a recognized designer, developer and manufacturer of precision engagement aerospace and defense systems for the U.S. and allied militaries. We develop, manufacture and support advanced combat, missile, rocket, manned and unmanned systems for military customers that include the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, NASA and dozens of foreign allies. We also offer a wide range of products and services for the global civil nuclear power industry and the military’s green power initiatives.
How long has MFC been in Grand Prairie and how large is the team in the DFW area?
In 1967, LTV Corp.’s missile division, today’s LM MFC, moved into its own building at our current location at West Freeway Street and Marshall Drive. We currently have about 4800 team members at our MFC locations across Grand Prairie, Arlington and Fort Worth. In addition, Lockheed Martin has a large presence in Fort Worth with the Aeronautics business area with 18,000 team members.
What is the biggest challenge that your customer faces today and how are you helping?
One of the biggest challenges that our customer faces today is that our adversaries are highly adaptive and confronting us from every domain across air, sea, space, land and cyber. Processing and analyzing the amount of data coming off our aircraft, satellites, ships and ground vehicles is a challenge, especially when you factor in the levels of security at which those systems operate. One solution to this challenge is a new concept known as Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO). With JADO, we want to provide a complete picture of the battlespace – this is what empowers our military to quickly make decisions that drive action. To do this, we’re evolving technologies that connect, share and learn – all to empower warfighters with the information they need. Speed and innovation are critical in ensuring our customer’s success.
What is MFC doing to foster innovation?
To accelerate these new technologies and capabilities to our programs and customer, we’ve created Innovation Centers in which technology and products are explored and developed through interaction, demonstration, visualization and collaboration. Our first Innovation Center opened in Grand Prairie at the end of 2016. It was followed by another Innovation Center at our Orlando campus in the summer of 2018.
Our Innovation Centers are open to all our employees 24/7, inspiring and allowing them to innovate and create tomorrow’s solutions. In addition to empowering our employees, our Innovation Centers are critical to supporting our customers as they have allowed us to create a vision of what’s possible for our customer. Other parts of the Innovation Centers are focused on capabilities ranging from 3D printing to drone flight to augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). These capabilities are there for programs to leverage, and they do on a regular basis.
The Innovation Center in Dallas is home to six individual labs and a conference room with classified VTC capabilities. The Engineering Visualization Environment (EVE) Lab is one of those labs and is a creative hotspot where designers work to engineer life-like renderings of MFC products and their capabilities. EVE was created to help us successfully explain how LM products can service complex customer operational needs. We do this through cinematic engineering visualization. This requires specialized hardware and software that’s more akin to what you’d find in a CGI special effects studio, so it made sense to carve out a separate studio in the Innovation Center.
Over the last 12 months, the EVE Lab has helped programs across all lines of business within MFC by producing highly informed videos using engineering, manufacturing and operational analysis data to communicate complex ideas and concepts of operation. The videos are used in a variety of ways but primarily for communicating complex information as succinctly as possible through visual means. The videos have been used to set the stage in Customer Design Reviews, as presentation tools to provide advocacy for new programs or capabilities, in presentations to Congress describing emerging threats and new capabilities, and to communicate/demonstrate to internal leadership about program concept of operations (CONOPS). A recent example of this was an operational view of the launcher separation and flyout from the launching aircraft shown during a Hypersonics program review.
The other labs in the Dallas Innovation Center include the Genesis Lab, an innovation garage equipped with tools and solutions to help employees think “outside the box,” tinker and create to support their ideas for the next MFC program or product improvement.
The Affordability Test Bed (ATB) next door allows programs to test concepts and technologies quickly to enable rapid-to-market solutions. The ATB’s mission is to identify and test promising emerging technology that may provide more affordable solutions for our programs.
The Energy Innovation Lab supports Lockheed Martin’s Energy portfolio in a variety of creative ways.
The Advanced Research, Experimentation and Simulation (ARES) Lab is a completely reconfigurable space that will allow programs to accomplish a number of tasks, including battle space simulations and other customer support activities.
And finally, the Advanced Technology Development (ATD) Lab is a classified space with ATB-like capabilities.
On any given day, the team at the Innovation Center is busy introducing employees to the technologies in the labs, providing hands-on training and helping programs explore new concepts. In addition to this work, the lab team performs frequent maintenance on equipment and gives tours since the centers are popular destinations when our external customers visit.
Our Innovation Centers today have quite different capability than when they opened. We are constantly looking for new technology and capabilities, and we listen to our users. For example, we significantly expanded our electronics workbench capabilities and built a machine lab due to internal customer demand. We expect to continue to evolve with the future needs of our employees and customers.
How do you find the talent that embraces and drives innovation?
Innovation is at the core of our culture at Lockheed Martin. And innovation does not happen without minds that that are inspired and supported to imagine. Our people apply their passion for purposeful innovation to keep our nation safe and solve the world’s most complex challenges.
Our Innovation Center labs are staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, and most are from an engineering or IT background. In addition to engineers, the EVE Lab also has computer graphics artists. Given the high volume of cleared roles we recruit, there’s a high demand for STEM and business talent. We recruit locally and nationally for these roles. Talent attraction is challenging; however, our talent pipeline efforts begin early and are focused on high school, college internships, and college work experience programs with the University of Texas at Arlington to accelerate early career hiring within the DFW area. Within our Manufacturing and Engineering organizations, we have apprenticeship opportunities for skilled trades, and have experienced professional STEM and critically-skilled roles to solve the most complex STEM and business challenges.
One of the biggest opportunities we see is around attracting and retaining talent in the most competitive labor market the U.S. has experienced in decades. Delivering agile and transformative candidate/employee experiences enable talented folks to say yes to our mission and grow their careers within the aerospace and defense industry. Those experiences include things such as the Innovation Center, where we’ve worked to create a comfortable space where all employees – technical and non-technical – can develop their ideas and transition them into workable solutions to meet the evolving needs of our customers. Anytime we can assist with progressing an employee’s innovative idea or introduce them to a new technology, we are advancing, transforming our enterprise and preparing our team to grow the business.
We have much to offer at Lockheed Martin – robust career development experiences and the prestige of being part of a mission that creates innovative solutions and capabilities that will change the ways we defend our country now and in the future. We have the brightest minds working at MFC, and we view work/life integration as a key differentiator (for example, we have a 4 x 10hr flex work week schedule). We offer our team members challenging and purposeful careers that can last a lifetime and a working environment in which everyone can show up with their best and authentic selves.