Robotic Skills in the Defense Industry

Andrew Warren (MSR '18) talks about benefiting from experiences and lessons learned in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program and applying them to his work at Raytheon Missiles and Defense.

Andrew Warren has always enjoyed finding optimal solutions for technical problems. For the past three years, he has focused on national defense.

Andrew WarrenWarren (MSR '18) is a systems engineer for Raytheon Missiles and Defense, a company focused on air and missile defense systems, precision weapons, radars, and command and control systems. Warren works in a group that does actuator control systems and started with Raytheon one month after graduating from Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program. 

His career path is one of many that can benefit from the knowledge gained within MSR, he said. 

"An actuator is any mechanical system that can have an effect in the physical world," he said. "Most of the time it is an electric motor, but it may be some type of hydraulic magnetic system. In the case of a robot arm, the actuators are the motors that control each joint. In my case, the actuators are the motors and gear trains that rotate missile fins in order to steer the missile along its flight path." 

The control systems Warren works with rely on math and algorithms to calculate the amount of current needed for the motors to position the fins of a missile where they need to be throughout an entire flight.

Every project he's worked on involves a system that requires developing algorithms for the actuators, integrating and testing them with their electrical systems, developing high precision controls, and creating models and simulations to predict performance, all skills learned while attending MSR.

Warren credited his time in the MSR program with preparing him for his current responsibilities. As he considered graduate school, he wanted a project-based program where he could focus on practical experiences rather than research and thesis writing. 

He found that in MSR.

During his first quarter in the program, Warren worked with the Baxter robot and incorporated video processing, path planning, and motion control to have the robot pick up a glass of water and hand it to a person. He later created a custom balancing platform robot that controlled the position of a rolling ball on the platform's surface.

"The MSR program allows you to pick your interests and pursue them as far as you can," Warren said. "You get out of this educational program exactly as much as you put into it." 

Warren brought that approach to Raytheon, where he employs it now.

"I seek out work that will further my interests as well as provide meaningful utility to the company," he said. "Raytheon is a large company with so many different projects to work on and fields to work within. I am always looking for the right place to do work that I enjoy and that has an impact."

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