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17 together – and moving through a process to ensure safety.” Andrews got her introduction to unmanned systems when she joined Bell in 2000. The company had recently completed testing the Eagle Eye tiltrotor UAV prototypes, and the US Coast Guard was interested in a larger derivative as part of its modernisation programme known as Deepwater. At the time, Andrews was involved in conceptual design of rotary-wing UAVs with payloads of around 500 lb. “We had a small team that would look through the customer’s requirements for the vehicle, and we would then lay out how far and how fast the vehicle could go, as well as what it might look like to satisfy those requirements,” she says. That led to her being tasked with some of the initial work on layouts for that derivative aircraft. “As we were responding to the US Coast Guard’s request for a UAV, I supported that effort in my pre-design work,” she recalls. Mentors and mentoring As mentors, she cites Dr Dudley Smith of the University of Oklahoma, whom she met while studying there, and retired Bell executive Dr Patricia Robinson. It was as part of a team led by Dr Smith that she put her name to a patent describing a (tiltrotor) rotorcraft with a variable incident wing while working at Bell in 2010. “I’ve had other leaders who have been strong mentors to me, and throughout my career I’ve looked for opportunities to speak with my peers as well as mentoring other people younger than me, and passing it forward,” she says. “There is no one mentor, and we are constantly learning from each other and growing from those experiences.” This human aspect of engineering chimes with Andrews’ long-term career goals. “I have always had the desire to make a difference in the industry as well as to those I can mentor,” she says. Her personal philosophy of engineering puts problem-solving at its heart. “My approach is to understand the problem, explore the options, then find a viable solution while making the complex simple. If we don’t understand what is driving the need, we might be solving the wrong problem.” Crawl, walk, run Like many engineers, she believes that the biggest challenges facing the unmanned systems industry lie at the nexus between technology and regulations. “The technology is moving at a pace, and we want to use it quickly – there is an urge to run,” she says. “But to ensure that our vehicles are safe in the air and for those on the ground – and that there is the proper public acceptance – we have to take the crawl, walk, run approach,” she cautions, adding that the relationship between the technology, safety and the regulations have to be thoroughly vetted. “Understanding how the technology is going to drive the regulations is one of those challenges.” Jennifer D Andrews | In conversation takes off Unmanned Systems Technology | April/May 2020 Artist’s impression of the APT-70 fully transitioned into wing-borne flight. A key mission requiring integration into civil airspace is transporting medical supplies over congested urban areas (Images courtesy of Bell)