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Douglas Ousborne: Supervisor, Theater Systems Engineering Group
B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland
M.S., Electrical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering
M.S., Technical Management, The Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering
What is your primary role? I supervise a group of 41 engineers, physicists, and computer scientists working a variety of systems engineering programs for our Navy, Missile Defense Agency, and Office of Naval Research sponsors. These programs span the entire life cycle of systems development, including independent research and development, concept development, trade studies, performance analysis, requirements development, industry-partner technical direction, land-based testing, and live-fire event testing. Our staff contributions to these programs influence the introduction of new capabilities as well as systems in use in the field today.
What do you like about what you do? I truly enjoy the opportunity to influence programs and tasks and help people maximize their contributions. I would never have imagined how much leading others interests and challenges me. It's very rewarding. At the same time, I still have the opportunity to perform my own technical work and directly contribute to programs—something very important to me.
Can you provide an example of your work? One of the programs I'm working on is developing solutions to enable our Navy to shoot down advanced ballistic missiles targeted at our allies, cities, and U.S. forces around the world. This is a very difficult problem—essentially launching an interceptor missile and guiding it to a direct collision with a ballistic missile warhead in space at incredibly fast closing speeds. It requires a large team of engineers, scientists, and software experts to develop concepts, conduct trade studies, analyze performance, develop requirements, guide industry partners, test solutions in the field, and support live-fire test events.
What’s it like to work at APL? I especially like the variety of the work and the challenging problems. It’s tremendously rewarding to see a system progress from concept through development and then deployment. To know you have directly contributed to this system in a significant way is just so rewarding and inspiring. I’ve been at APL long enough to see this happen several times. It is part of what has kept me here for three decades, and then some.
The second thing that has kept me at APL is the people. The Lab is loaded with technically sharp, motivated, dedicated, hard-working staff…who are also genuinely nice people. Our staff members are top-quality people who are excited about their work. The Lab doesn’t hire just to meet the demands of a new contract but to meet long-term needs. APL is a place that honors individual contributions yet values teamwork, because so much more can be accomplished by an energized, efficient team.