In Part 1 of our series on COTS components for space applications, we discussed why the government is increasingly turning to “commercial off the shelf” parts for spacecraft, satellites and more. COTS parts have already been successfully adopted in many military applications, but when it comes to space, COTS adoption has been much slower.
Space exploration has never been cheap. In the days of the Apollo program, the cost of sending payloads into space was such that only government agencies with billions of dollars to spend could afford it. Over time, those costs have begun to come down, but even with advances in launch technology, funding for such activities ebbs and flows. In the wake of budget cuts for military and aerospace Research and Development, there has been much pressure to develop systems and designs that meet the needs of space projects and reduce costs without sacrificing quality. This is where COTS (Commercial Off-The Shelf) products offer a potential solution.
These are exciting times to be an RF engineer. With the advent of 5G, the Internet of Things, and the increasing expansion of the private sector into space, we are about to witness some extraordinary developments in radio frequency tech in the next decade.
There are a lot of engineers coming out of school who want to get in on the action. So, what are the traits that help an RF engineer succeed? What distinguishes those who advance in their careers and land the most desirable positions from those who don’t? Let’s explore this in detail and break down 3 of the most important qualities that make a successful RF engineer.
Space. One of the biggest mysteries of mankind. Are we alone? Will humans ever sustain themelves on mars or other planets? What else is is out there waiting to be explored outside of our solar system? These questions and more lead many young people to pursue a career in engineering. While human space exploration involves the minds of many different types of engineers, RF engineers are among the most important.
Do You Have The (Right) Skills?
If you were to ask the typical layperson what the most important quality of a successful engineer is, they would probably consider technical expertise to be the most vital. But the truth is that in RF engineering - as in all other branches of engineering - there are many other qualities that are necessary for success which are less quantifiable than technical skills. Electrical engineers who want to advance in their careers must also develop leadership skills in order to differentiate themselves from the competition and increase their value in the marketplace.
The RF engineering field is an exciting and growing industry, and different firms are always competing to attract that best talent to their teams. But finding the best new employees isn’t as simple as just posting on job boards anymore. To stand out from the crowd, engineering companies use social media to present themselves in the best light to not only their customers but to potential new recruits as well.
These are exciting times to be working in any field of engineering, but especially in the radio frequency industry. The modern economy simply cannot function without RF technology, and as we transition into a world of ever-faster mobile service, civilian and military space-based systems and the Internet of Things, we’ll increasingly be relying on microwave, low-frequency engineering.