Tinker engineers grow in numbers

Sunday, October 22, 2017

by Josh Dulaney


While tech hubs such as Silicon Valley draw engineers and scientists hoping to score big money with flashy apps and gadgets, the nation's military bases take those seeking to apply their skills in the interest of national security.

The Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base is home to about 1,500 scientists and engineers, and the base has targeted another 200 for hire this year, said Kevin D. Stamey, director of Engineering and Technical Management.

“The fastest growing sector of the Tinker population is our scientists and engineers,” Stamey said. “Last year, our software organization executed a million hours of workload. This year, they're going to execute 1.2 million, so that's a 20 percent growth in workload in just one year.”

AFSC employs about 1,000 software engineers, or double that of a decade ago. Unlike the weaponry of yesteryear, modern systems of war are software intensive. For example, the new KC-46 aerial tanker requires 3.2 billion lines of code and the personnel to manage it.

Software engineers also spend their time adding new capabilities to aging weapons systems or figuring out how to make things better and faster. That includes the nascent use of 3-D printing. Also known as additive manufacturing, the process enables engineers to produce parts for aircraft, which translates into less time planes spend grounded for repair.

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