Life at the Edge: Research and Development as a Way of Life

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Chris Boshers
Director, Emerging Technologies
Lockheed Martin Corporation


Life at the Edge: Research and Development as a Way of Life

Research and development, when defined broadly, can be used to describe the job functions of many (perhaps the majority!) of engineers in the aerospace industry.  An attitude in which continuous improvement in the products, processes, and procedures that engineers develop or execute should be the norm.  Whether the job title or group name includes the “R&D” moniker or not, most engineers will conduct research and development activities as part of their normal job function – and this activity must be encouraged and supported by technical leaders.

In this discussion, we will explore examples of different aspects of research and development activities, ranging from the classic, intentional R&D activities that are used to develop new products or capabilities; to accidental R&D which occurred while engineers were performing non-R&D activities.  We will examine specific examples of R&D “aha” moments that resulted in some sort of improvement (or avoided a potential problem) in an aerospace application.  And we will discover that the edge of technology is very real, and can be found in unexpected places.


Chris Boshers serves as Director of Emerging Technologies at Lockheed Martin. In this role, Chris coordinates research and development activity in the areas of advanced manufacturing technologies, materials and processes, and model-based engineering research.  This research portfolio supports the development of critical technology across all business areas and products at Lockheed Martin, including space, aeronautics, missiles, and rotary systems.

Prior to this role Chris served as Sr. Director and Chief Engineer for Spirit AeroSystems’ Defense division.  In this role, Chris led technical development activity during Spirit AeroSystems’ transition from a purely commercial manufacturer to a significant Defense contractor with over $600M in annual revenue. His technical leadership activity on V-280, CH-53K, and classified Defense projects established Spirit as a solid Defense aerostructures performer.

In his 30+ years of experience in the aerospace industry, Chris has performed in a variety of roles, including stress analysis of composite and metallic structures, development of FAA-approved material

allowables, and development of innovative strength-prediction software tools for aerospace structures.  Chris has extensive experience in research and development; he was part of the R&D teams at both Lockheed Martin and Boeing. He supported development of the F-22 and was part of the team evaluating thermal protection systems for the NASP hypersonic vehicle.

Boshers holds Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Science degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech.