John Steckel, vice president of Business Development at AMERICAN SYSTEMS, one of the largest employee-owned federal contractors in the country, recently spoke with ExecutiveGov for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview to discuss the firm’s growing Independent Research and Development (IRAD) initiatives.
In addition, Steckel discussed why research and development are so important as AMERICAN SYSTEMS as well as the other areas of investment in IRAD and more!
“AMERICAN SYSTEMS is one of the few that has an active and on-going IRAD program that focuses on creating innovation to help us provide better and more cost-effective services to our customers.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with John Steckel below:
ExecutiveBiz: Why is Research and Development so important to AMERICAN SYSTEMS?
John Steckel: “First and foremost, AMERICAN SYSTEMS is an engineering company where our employee-owners take pride in providing smart solutions for our customers. We do that every day in the execution of our programs, but we are always striving to improve.
Part of that includes investing in technologies that allow us to be more efficient and effective in delivering our Strategic Solutions which include Acquisition and Logistics Support, Enterprise IT, Engineering and Analysis, Test & Evaluation, and Training. So, it’s not just important to AMERICAN SYSTEMS, it ultimately benefits our customers.”
ExecutiveBiz: Are your R&D efforts part of your contract tasking?
John Steckel: “Not directly. By working with our government customers over time, we learn where their needs are not being met, or where there’s an opportunity to innovate, and we focus our research in those areas.
That’s why it’s called Independent Research and Development, or IRAD. I’ve been blessed to work in several companies that provide products, services, or a combination of products and services to the government customer.
Of those, AMERICAN SYSTEMS is one of the few that has an active and on-going IRAD program that focuses on creating innovation to help us provide better and more cost-effective services to our customers.
We do this outside the scope of our existing contracts, on our own time and on our own dime, with the goal of implementing smarter solutions moving forward.”
ExecutiveBiz: Can you provide an example?
John Steckel: “We not only have annual IRAD investments, but also have built ‘labs’ where we can innovate and train our teams to be innovative.
For example, we have a Digital Engineering lab in our Patuxent River, MD office with the environment and tools to not only train our teams in Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques, but also create digital twins of systems and processes that allow us to develop smarter solutions from a systems point of view.”
ExecutiveBiz: In what other areas are you investing IRAD time and energy?
John Steckel: “MBSE is just one example of the investment we’ve made to bring technology to our service solutions. We’ve invested in artificial intelligence and machine learning to allow us to take advantage of automation to process and make decisions using big data.
This allows us to augment our teams with technology solutions to reduce cost to the customer while increasing value we provide our customers. We’ve incorporated modeling and simulation into our training programs.
Brought knowledge management into our processes to allow us to remove silos between programs and leverage lessons learned on one program into others. We use agile methodologies throughout our business from internal processes to developing training programs, writing software, testing customer systems, you name it.
Why do we do this? It is all about serving our customer’s National Priority Programs in the most efficient and effective way … keeping costs down … providing more value to the customer … and probably most importantly, being good stewards of our tax dollars.”