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Robert P. Lyons, Jr.

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Robert P. Lyons, Jr., is a technical and management consultant and educator with over 35 years of experience in research and development, engineering, program planning, acquisition, and maintenance for a wide range of military and commercial systems. He consults for the aerospace industry, the US Government, non-profit institutes, and commercial concerns. Mr. Lyons retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel after serving as Director, HQ Air Force Materiel Command Acquisition (AFMC) Center of Excellence (ACE). There he worked in concert with the Secretary of the Air Force’s ACE and led a hand-picked, multi-disciplined team of acquisition professionals in the Headquarters and AFMC Product, Logistics, and Test Centers and Laboratory responsible for driving innovation, challenging and radically changing processes, and helping acquisition and sustainment programs across the USAF.

Mr. Lyons worked on nuclear instrumentation, solid-state electron devices, and microwave systems in three USAF laboratories. He led integration and software development for the World Wide Military Command and Control Information System. Mr. Lyons also was the Deputy Director, Integrated Engineering and Technical Management for Aeronautical Systems Center’s 2400 engineers. He was the Avionics and Software Integrated Product Team Leader for the F-22, Deputy Program Director for the F-15, Program Director for the X-32 Joint Strike Fighter, and Director, Joint Strike Fighter Engineering and Manufacturing Development, leading acquisition planning for the F-35 program.

Mr. Lyons earned his bachelor’s degree (with honors) from New Mexico State University and his master’s degree (Commandant’s Award for exceptional thesis research) from the Air Force Institute of Technology, both in electrical engineering. He is a graduate of Squadron Officer’s School, Air Command and Staff College, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Industrial College of the Armed Forces (National Security Management Program), the Defense Systems Management College, and the Carnegie Mellon Executive Development Course. He holds certificates in Process Mastery from Hammer and Co.; Leading Change and Organizational Renewal from Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business; Advanced Project Management from Stanford University; and Corporate Governance from Tulane Law School. He lectures on Digital Avionics Architectures and Software Management at the University of California at Los Angeles Extension. He also teaches project, program, and risk management classes.

Mr. Lyons served for six years on the National Defense Industrial Association’s Combat Survivability Division’s Board of Directors.  He is currently the Executive Vice President and Acting Vice President for Publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ (IEEE) Aerospace and Electronics Systems Society (AESS). He also served as a member of the AESS Board of Governors and as its Vice President of Technical Operations. He has been AESS’s representative to and the Vice President for Conferences for the IEEE Systems Council. Mr. Lyons is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he serves on the Digital Avionics Technical Committee. He is also a member of the American Society for Quality, the Project Management Institute, and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, as well as Eta Kappa Nu and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.


Talk Title:


Hard-Learned Lessons: Systems Engineering Issues and Their Program Impacts


This talk is one engineer and program manager’s retrospective analysis of systems engineering issues and their programmatic impacts. The goal is to show a holistic view of the role of systems engineering failures all along the “Systems Engineering V” and their consequences during program planning, execution, and operations. The programs in question span more than 40 years and cover small to large avionics, command and control, space, and major weapons systems, such as the B-1B bomber and the F-22, F-15, and Joint Strike Fighters. Personal vignettes on each system’s technical issues, most of which are systems engineering related, show linkages to program outcomes, and summarize the lessons that would have been good to have been learned more than 40 years ago. 

Past President (2014); Aerospace & Electronic Systems Society Alternate Rep; Distinguished Lecturer


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