Engineer of the Year honoree sets a new standard in secure communications

Adriane Van Auken 2018 Engineer of the Year recipient

Adriane Van Auken followed in her father’s footsteps and became a Rockwell Collins engineer. She was recently named an Engineer of the Year corporate winner in Government Systems.Click to enlarge

1,095 days. That’s the amount of time Adriane Van Auken spent developing the architecture and cybersecurity features of a cryptographic subsystem. What is a cryptographic subsystem? We’re glad you asked.

Known as the Apollo Crypto, this subsystem is key to evolving Type 1 crypto security for our government communications products and ensuring secure communication of sensitive, classified information.

The Apollo design was innovative and flexible, and Van Auken and her team were excited about presenting it to our customer. However, a late change in requirements meant her original design would need major modification in order to remain viable. So, Van Auken took the organization’s feedback and started again.

The team worked evenings and weekends to develop a new architecture and meet existing time commitments. Following successful security verification testing and customer buy-in, the software-defined Apollo crypto product became a reality. The solution sets a new standard for secure government communications products while being cost-effective and easily portable.

For her work and leadership during the design, development and certification phases of the Apollo crypto, Van Auken has been recognized as the 2017 Rockwell Collins Engineer of the Year for Government Systems. She is one of three engineers to be named a corporate winner.

A security expert
Van Auken’s design pushed boundaries and led the customer to introduce a new class of crypto device that’s unlike any other currently in the market.

Because of her expertise, Van Auken has a trusted relationship with the customer and with numerous other government customers. She’s known as a leader in crypto systems at Rockwell Collins and takes time to mentor other engineers on all aspects of security.

She used her 10 years of experience working on previous cryptographic cards to create this latest architecture.

“That’s what innovation is about — coming up with a brand new solution or updating a current one that benefits your customers,” she said. “Apollo crypto is based on an idea we had developed in the past. But we innovated and made it better.”

Van Auken’s innovation will have a major business impact for Rockwell Collins. The software-defined crypto product is the central component providing security in our Government Systems communications products. It will enable continued long-term growth in several product lines, including the TruNet™ family of radios and TacNet™ Datalink radios. At the same time, it enables our company to develop new products and pursue new business opportunities.

Following in her father’s footsteps
Van Auken’s engineering career has mirrored that of a former Rockwell Collins engineer — her father, Floyd Van Auken.

Both father and daughter are systems engineers. He began his career as a hardware engineer, while his daughter started as a software engineer. Both hold U.S. Government Patents and both have been nominated for Engineer of the Year.

Floyd Van Auken advanced to director of one of two communications groups in Government Systems. He retired several years ago after a 30-year career at Rockwell Collins. His work inspired his daughter at a young age.

“When I was younger, our family went to open houses the company hosted,” Van Auken remembered. “I could see the cool things my dad was working on. When I was in seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to work at Rockwell Collins. And here I am.”

Story posted: March 21, 2018

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