REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – If the Army flies it, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center certifies it. As the Army’s airworthiness authority for manned and unmanned aircraft systems – including Future Vertical Lift – DEVCOM AvMC relies on a team of Warfighter-focused world leaders in aviation and life cycle engineering, like Amber Williams, an electronics engineer in avionics architecture for the AvMC Systems Readiness Directorate.
In honor of Engineers Week, we asked Ms. Williams to tell us about her engineering background and career.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I’m originally from a suburb of Birmingham named Irondale (if you’ve ever seen or read “Fried Green Tomatoes,” that place). I first came to Huntsville in 2011 for college. I received my BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an engineer? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I’ve known I wanted to be an engineer since I was pretty young. I grew up watching every show I could find about scientific discoveries, technical innovation or how things work. I was fairly technically-minded, so I liked to take things apart to understand them better and eventually found activities and classes that let me learn how to express my technical interests in a purposeful way.
Q: Why did you choose mechanical engineering?
A: I enjoy all aspects of engineering design and development, and each day I get to observe or participate in a different part of those processes.
Q: What do you like about your job?
A: I like that my work is meaningful and provides a necessary service to my country. My work environment is also helpful and supportive. We prioritize learning and work together to solve complex issues within our areas of expertise.
Q: How would you describe the work you do at AvMC to a group of middle school students?
A: We make sure aviation technologies are being built, installed, integrated and used responsibly to ensure pilot and crew safety and mission success. We do this by making rules or guidelines for those activities and checking to make sure everyone involved in those activities are following them.
Q: This year’s Engineers Week theme is “Imagining Tomorrow” – how does the work you do support the future?
A: As the Army airworthiness authority, we not only qualify equipment and air vehicles but also have a hand in building the future airworthiness infrastructure through regulation/guidance development and collaboration with civilian and international regulatory bodies. With flight and communication technologies in a state of constant innovation, our airspace, and the way we interact with it, is rapidly changing. We work closely with members of the aviation community during qualification and research activities in order to identify and capture the future performance needs within our areas of expertise. As the lead for the SORE 10 (Inform Requirements for Future Military Tactical Communications and Civil Air Traffic Management Functions) research effort, I am lucky enough to participate in these types of interactions almost every day. I get to learn firsthand the operational perspectives of military and industry partners, technology developers, researchers, and other airspace authorities and play a role in solving future challenges facing the Warfighter.
Q: What does it mean to you that your job ultimately supports the Warfighter?
A: Ensuring airworthiness and safety of flight for Army aviation means that we help provide the safe, reliable systems that the Warfighter depends on. What we do is important because service members rely on our efforts to know that a capability will always be there when it’s needed.
Q: What advice would you give to a student wanting to pursue a career in engineering?
A: Be passionate about it and study, study, study. There are so many different ways to be an engineer. Take the time to fully investigate which types of engineering interest you, and build on those interests through your studies, extracurriculars, and even hobbies. There’s a fulfilling joy in learning about something you’re truly passionate about.
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.