Robert McBride (PhD, 2005) and Rich Scholes (MS, 1996) are both ECE alumni who have spent their careers working at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. As adjunct faculty members, they’re also passing on their expertise to engineers of the future.
What is your role at Raytheon, and how long have you been with the company?
ROBERT: I am a senior principal systems engineer and have been with Raytheon Missiles & Defense for 23 years.
RICH: I am a senior engineering fellow and chief technologist for signal processing at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, where I started in 1994. I also support new business initiatives and internal research and development activities for a family of programs at RMD.
Do you feel your time at the University of Arizona and in ECE prepared you well for a career in industry?
ROBERT: The controls background I received at the University of Arizona most deﬁnitely prepared me for design work in the aerospace industry. The course content has direct application to creating solutions to engineering design problems. I have a whole suite of tools that I developed as a student that I rely on repeatedly.
RICH: I found part-time work while I was in graduate school. My first year, I wrote instrument drivers for microwave test equipment, and this helped me to get a summer internship at Hughes Missile Systems in the radar center.
I stayed at Hughes [which was bought by Raytheon] for the remainder of my time in graduate school and in my second year, I took a detection and estimation class and enjoyed it more than any class I had ever taken. I identified a radar estimation problem for my thesis topic that led to additional research at work and provided a great background for the beginning of my career.
What do you teach at ECE? How and when did you ﬁrst begin teaching here?
ROBERT: I started teaching at the university in 2009. I have taught everything from Discrete Control Theory, Continuous Systems Modeling and Elements of Electrical Engineering (Circuits), to Computer Programming for Engineering Applications (C Programming).
RICH: I started teaching Ethics and Contemporary Issues for undergraduate students in January 2018. I heard that the department was looking for someone with industry experience to teach this class, and I have always enjoyed teaching.
What keeps you coming back, year after year? How does your experience in industry inform your teaching style?
ROBERT: Many times, I have seen former students of mine grow to become colleagues in industry. Honestly, this is what keeps me coming back as an adjunct faculty member. I truly love the opportunity to work with the students.
I think that my experience in industry brings a touch of reality to student learning. For example, the C programming course is a very fun course where students may enter without any experience at all and exit with tangible training that can be listed on a resume. Although this course is fun and, at times, lighthearted, I often iterate that students, upon graduation, may be dealing with software that is considered safety critical. The principles taught in this course are important and must be taken seriously since they may be used in designs where human safety is a major concern.
RICH: I enjoy the thoughtful interaction and interchange with students when they solicit my opinion for help, an interview, or questions that arise. I also finish the semester with invited guest lecturers to bring additional perspectives, reinforce ethical concepts and introduce students to new technology and unintended consequences. I delight in these interchanges and the excitement from the students and the speakers for these discussions.
I feel that my range of technical experience and management helps me to bring real life experience and perspective to the class. I have always enjoyed mentoring and teaching new engineers about radar, employee work/life balance, and providing simulations and tools for them to do their job. I hope my teaching style always acknowledges that I have more to learn and that, as a collective group, we can do more than individuals will ever accomplish by themselves.