Engineer of the Year recipient creates next-generation receiver from scratch

Joseph Angelo, 2018 Engineer of the Year award winner

Angelo Joseph followed his instincts and became an engineer instead of entering the medical field like most others in his family. He was recently named a Rockwell Collins Engineer of the Year corporate winner in Commercial Systems.Click to enlarge

Angelo Joseph might have been a doctor if he had followed the professional path of his family members. But he liked math and when he was teenager, he decided he wanted to be an engineer.

“Everyone in my family is in the medical field, so I was a rebel,” Joseph laughed. “But I knew I wanted to use my math skills and create products that make people’s lives better, more efficient. My parents have been kind enough to support my career choice.”

It’s good that Joseph followed his instincts. He has pioneered a software defined global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver that is now the most advanced commercial product certified today.

For this outstanding achievement, he’s been named the 2017 Rockwell Collins Engineer of the Year for Commercial Systems. He is one of three engineers to be named a corporate winner.

Next-generation receiver
In the world of GNSS, there’s an insurgence of new systems coming online. Rockwell Collins looked to Joseph to create a next-generation GNSS receiver that not only tracks current navigation satellites but is capable of tracking future satellite constellations.

His work resulted in game-changing technology: a multi-frequency, multi-constellation receiver featuring a software-defined radio design, meaning our customers won’t have to constantly change hardware when new satellite systems come online. Instead, they will be given software upgrades saving them time and money.

The journey to this product began with a concept. With half-time assistance from another engineer, Joseph worked for two years developing the radio frequency, hardware, software and prototype design. After months of tracking satellites with a prototype, Joseph vividly remembers the moment when it first computed a true position.

It was around 7:30 on a Friday night in late December. An antenna had been placed on the roof of a building at the Rockwell Collins facility in Melbourne, Florida, which is located near the Atlantic Ocean. Initially, the prototype indicated the antenna’s position was about 2 miles in the ocean. Joseph realized he had forgotten to apply one of the satellite clock corrections. Once that was adjusted, the device accurately computed the antenna’s rooftop position.

“It was a big moment to finally have it all come together,” he said. “It was a new architecture designed from scratch. It was software-based and software-designed — something that had never been done at Rockwell Collins.”

But by that hour on a Friday night, there was no one in the office with whom he could share the exciting news. So, he was left to text his supervisor at the time to tell him “this product is happening.”

Building a new team
The next step was to build Joseph’s innovative features and functions into a real product and get it certified. However, there weren’t enough available engineers with GNSS experience in Melbourne to build a product development team.

So, as he had done with his product, he started from scratch. He built a team of approximately 10 engineers, drawing on additional support from areas including drafting and mechanical engineering as needed.

But the size of his core team was unusual considering the complexity and scope of the project. Joseph believed the smaller group could execute more quickly than a larger one in developing the product and pushing it through the complex and labor-intensive certification process.

“This small, dynamic team brought with it unique skill sets and rose to the challenge of completing this project on time,” Joseph said. “I could not have taken this product to market on my own. I needed this high-performing team to take the journey with me.

“Because it was the first time these engineers had worked on GNSS, it was my job to motivate them to reach above and beyond what they thought they were capable of doing,” Joseph continued. “Clearly, the result of their work speaks for itself.”

Teenage prediction comes true
After a lot of hard work, Joseph is thrilled to see his GNSS receiver certified and being sold to customers. His teenage vision of the difference he could make as an engineer was prescient. He created a product that is a significant benefit for our customers and gives Rockwell Collins a significant advantage in the marketplace.

He is honored to be recognized as a Rockwell Collins Engineer of the Year for this accomplishment. And he’s grateful for the opportunity given to him by the company.

“I appreciate the trust our company placed in me to do this,” Joseph said. “It’s been quite a journey. But it’s motivated me to come up with more innovative products in the future.”

Story posted: March 15, 2018

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