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A better world through a systems approach

Interview with Tim Vermilion, ESEP

Courtney Wright

Sep 27, 2021

SEP Interview 30 - Tim Vermilion photoThis interview was conducted in 2021.

Q1: Describe your current position/role.

Tim’s current position is as a Program Manager leading a team of systems engineering experts performing acquisition integration, test, and launch for satellite programs for the U.S. Government.  In this role he applies his Systems Engineering knowledge to satellite requirements, assembly, test, and launch integration activities.  He leads a team of 40+ people who conduct requirements definition for satellite systems, they then assist the government program office in guiding the programs through design, assembly, test, launch and on orbit activation.

Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

One of Tim’s proudest professional accomplishments was working in the Government program office for the Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) system where he, as a member of a smaller organization, was a key member of satellite launch requirements and launch campaign execution.  Tim successfully worked across engineering disciplines and multiple contractors to manage all launch requirements.  In this technical advisory role he managed the acquisition of launch sites, satellite processing facilities as well as communications and data requirements at the launch site.

Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

One of the challenges Tim encounters is to balance “ideal” Systems Engineering principles and cost.  In the satellite programs, there might be an “ideal” flow of systems integration and test events to develop the required functionality and minimize risk; however, this is not always feasible due to cost and schedule constraints. 

Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

Tim has two pieces of advice for individuals starting a career as a Systems Engineer:  1) Every time a requirement is written always identify how that requirement is going to be verified. This will ensure the requirements are executable; and 2) Do not underestimate the value of building a network of people that one can go to for advice and help.  Building relationships is key to performing one’s job well as a SE.

Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

Tim continues to learn about Systems Engineering by taking technical classes in various areas of interest.  He interacts with other engineers at different technical forums and symposiums and exchanges experiences with different people across disciplines and agencies.  Additionally, Tim has enjoyed being a guest lecturer on SE topics at local universities and other groups.

Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

Now an ESEP, Tim continues to lead teams who are at the fore front of SE to build the next generation of launch vehicles or satellites.

Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interest outside of work?

Outside of work, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.  His oldest daughter is studying Commercial Music at Liberty University.  His other daughter Megan is entering her junior year and is a member of the National Honor Society.  He son Joel is in middle school and Tim helps lead the his sons Trail Life USA Troop where he leads many backpacking and other outdoor activities.

Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

Tim enjoys being an ESEP and is thankful for his connection with INCOSE. This has helped him in his career and understanding of Systems Engineering.

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