Article by AL.com – August 29, 2022
Space and missile defense (SMD) is a vital contributor to the worldwide aerospace and military market. SMD systems detect, track, identify, and neutralize approaching missiles, rockets, and other airborne threats. It is one of the fastest-growing defense subsectors, and its growth is expected to continue. With growth comes research and development, and Huntsville-based PeopleTec has made incredible headway in the field.
The theme of the 2022 SMD Symposium, the industry’s leading educational, professional development, and networking event, was “ready today, modernizing for tomorrow.” PeopleTec, an employee-owned small business dedicated to providing technical excellence to the defense community in support of the warfighter, served as a silver sponsor of the event and showcased vital technologies they have been developing over the past year, like their Flight Analysis Software Toolkit (FAST) and new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools. These technologies are immensely valuable to the future and the SMD community.
Emerging Technologies and Advancements
PeopleTec meets the challenges of today and tomorrow with technical excellence, and they strive to stay on top of emerging technologies. At this year’s SMD Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, PeopleTec’s subject matter experts highlighted their latest advancements in hypersonic weapons testing, AI and ML, model-based systems engineering (MBSE), data analytics and visualization solutions, and other engineering services.
PeopleTec’s research scientist and meteorologist Brandon Chambers presented PeopleTec’s Flight Analysis Software Toolkit (FAST) to the technical track at the SMD Symposium. FAST is a government-owned solution that combines tools used in flight tests and evaluations into a single platform to aid in rapid mission planning, test support, and post-test analysis. According to Steve Redifer, a director at PeopleTec, FAST plays a crucial role in increasing flight testing operational pace.
Dr. Daniel Hyams also gave a presentation at the symposium highlighting his development of a microservice-based architecture for FAST. This architecture connects various technologies so FAST can be optimized automatically given flight test objectives, available assets, goals, mission, weather, and more. With microservices, excursions can be calculated quickly to study out-of-the-ordinary behavior, like a change in a no-fly zone or the weather. Microservices make it possible for these changes to be captured quickly.
In addition, PeopleTec showcased its progress in AI/ML research and development over the last couple of years. Their new technology, developed specifically for an SMD government customer, aims to reduce the response time from 20 minutes to 20 seconds when a warfighter is attacked or an incident occurs. This technology uses AI/ML to process data and get that information back to the warfighter so they can react quickly and effectively.
Digital engineering and model-based systems engineering (MBSE) were also a focus at the symposium, which Troy Sutherland, a director at PeopleTec, asserts are the future of their engineering work. The ability to evaluate architectural changes in a digital model is something that PeopleTec is investing in. Running models beforehand will save tax-payer money, preparation, and time on critical mission testing. Sutherland states, “Technology is finally catching up to the ideas and the wants of the SMD community, which is all about getting data processed and information in the hands of the warfighter faster to enable them to make better, quicker, and more informed decisions.”
With the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), PeopleTec has advanced beyond systems engineering with radar integration. Radar is important for identifying, tracking, and reacting quickly in the current geopolitical scene. This technology goes hand-in-hand with protecting the warfighter and the nation. Sutherland states, “That’s the name of the game: to protect the warfighter, to protect the homeland.”
Modernizing for Tomorrow
PeopleTec is passionate about staying aware of future needs, and that passion keeps the company “modernizing for tomorrow.” They have been awarded several contracts that will aid in their goals.
In July 2022, PeopleTec won a prime Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), which is a $40 million award to help the US Army’s Redstone Test Center (RTC). This partnership will lead to advancements and modernization in laboratory and open-air test environments to ensure test capabilities keep pace with the aggressive development and fielding schedules of US Army modernization programs.
PeopleTec has also won recent contracts with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to begin building the next generation interceptor. PeopleTec will be heavily involved in the test evaluation of the system. Redifer explains, “Our core lethality models are also going to be a key part of the modernization of our ballistic missile defense systems that have been on the ground for many years now.”
Commitment to Mission Readiness
PeopleTec is committed to supporting and enhancing the SMD community by developing products and solutions that significantly impact the country’s collective mission readiness. PeopleTec’s Rubix, also showcased at the SMD Symposium, captures and transforms disparate data from across an enterprise into actionable intelligence. It empowers users with higher levels of situational awareness and increases decision effectiveness for mission operations, planning, maintenance, logistics, human capital, and finance.
PeopleTec is recognized as a leader in technology due to their ability to integrate emerging technologies into their systems and bring new capabilities to market. Most of the emerging technologies they work on are in support of the DoD.
The company is committed to staying relevant and current in the rapidly changing defense and national security environment. Being a people-first, employee-owned company, PeopleTec embraces the mission of protecting the warfighter and making the future safer for all of us.
A Large Impact in Huntsville, Alabama
PeopleTec also plays a pivotal role in the state’s economic growth. PeopleTec uses Congressional funding to advance crucial initiatives for warfighters. Congressional representatives in Alabama have been successful in securing PeopleTec with the funding they need for research and development efforts in support of multiple Department of Defense (DoD) programs.
Alabama’s Congressional representatives are conscious of national defense, and they are aware of Huntsville’s technical expertise. PeopleTec uses Congressional funding to bring new technologies and capabilities to the warfighter, resulting in new jobs for Alabama, most of which are based in Huntsville.
FAST has been fully funded through National Defense bills supported by Alabama’s Congressional delegations. PeopleTec’s MBSE effort with RTC also began as a Congressional-seeded project. Redifer describes how combining Congressional funding and Huntsville’s technological know-how leads to success. He states, “The congressional delegations know what’s going on. They know what their constituents are doing and capable of, and I think we do a particularly good job fulfilling those needs.”
The People of PeopleTec Drive Innovation
“People First. Technology Always” is the company’s slogan. Employees are the driving force behind PeopleTec’s mission to modernize for tomorrow. Bright, innovative, and passionate individuals are drawn to the company’s culture. PeopleTec encourages its employees to expand their knowledge and expertise, which helps advance the company, support the warfighter, and protect the nation.
PeopleTec is one of 13 Huntsville companies to receive the US Department of Labor’s 2021 HIRE Vets Award Platinum Medallion in recognition of successfully recruiting, hiring, and retaining veterans. Sutherland expresses the company’s pride in winning this award, noting that about 35% of the workforce are veterans.
PeopleTec’s ability to foster innovation is due in large part to the wide range of perspectives represented within the company. If you were to walk into a meeting room at PeopleTec, you might find a retired veteran, a doctoral-level scientist, and a young professional with a fresh perspective, all working on the same project. “How often do you find that kind of combination—which is really unique because you get a diversity of thought, you get a diversity of opinion, and I think that’s where the good ideas come from,” notes Redifer.