“I am at a point as an engineer that a lot of my work now entails project management, team leadership and supporting new business pursuits. So I decided to accelerate my plans for an MBA,” said Senior Software Engineer at Rockwell Collins and current MBA candidate Trevor Rossi.   

Rossi has been with Rockwell Collins for over eight years and currently works in the Simulation and Training Solutions (STS) business unit which builds flight training devices for military and commercial customers. “My responsibilities span all aspects of engineering, from supporting program pursuits and project management to design and implementation. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work on a large variety of programs for the U.S. military, foreign military and commercial customers. For example, I have contributed to Blackhawk simulators for the U.S. Army, an E-2 tactics trainer for the Taiwanese Air Force, and Boeing 737 Next Generation simulators for training commercial pilots around the world,” he said.

Recently Rossi was the lead engineer and cost account manager for a few independent research and development (IR&D) projects, including one which added a flight planning capability to STS’s instructor software and another which added unmanned aerial systems (UAS) features to STS’s simulation software.  “The project management role is especially challenging in engineering IR&D because you are often handed a lofty goal, a short schedule and a tight budget,” Rossi said. “From there you have to refine the definition of the project, create and perform to a schedule and manage a team of engineers, all while performing the duties of a contributing engineer on the team. It’s really double duty.”

Rossi also largely supports business development by assessing project bids Rockwell Collins receives. “The bidding effort involves a lot of critical thinking as we develop a technical approach. Then, we have to develop a notional implementation and decompose it into a coherent proposal. The challenge here is how to meet the customer’s requirements within the price to win,” Rossi said. “I recently took on the challenge of leading the engineering side on a bid effort for a UAS training system for use by the U.S. Navy. This effort involved a cross-functional team where I had to coordinate input from electrical, mechanical and software engineers as well as interface with program management, business development and contracts. It was a great learning experience where I got to make use of my knowledge from the accounting and economics classes I have taken at Richmond.”

While Rossi reports to Rockwell Collins’ Sterling, Va., office, he has worked from home since enrolling at Richmond. “Working full-time and attending school is challenging,” he said. “It is particularly difficult to juggle the long hours and travel that my job sometimes requires on top of school work." 

However, the hard work has paid off, as after only completing four courses he is already realizing the benefits his studies have had on his work. “I would like to move into program management and eventually the business development side of engineering,” he said. “Rockwell Collins has many opportunities in these fields, but like most traditional engineering firms, they value experience and knowledge above all else. This is where The Richmond MBA comes in.”

In between balancing his education and career, Rossi finds time to contribute to the Science Museum of Virginia as co-chair of their young professional group, the Universe Society, where he has been a member of the Executive Committee for the past few years.