Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

September 2010    |    Volume: 42    |    Number: 9

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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The day we strive forJohn Huffman 

John E. Huffman
Technical fellow, enterprise architect
Spirit AeroSystems Inc.
Wichita, Kan.

My primary task as an enterprise architect for Spirit AeroSystems is to use system knowledge acquired from stakeholders to engineer a holistic view of the company’s strategy for processes, data and technology assets. The resulting “enterprise architecture” aligns Spirit’s information technology assets to its business competencies and postures us for new business ventures.

As the world’s largest first-tier aerostructures manufacturer, Spirit supports the world’s leading aircraft integrators with both design and manufacturing, such as Airbus and Boeing. The decision-making tasks of our stakeholders are key activities within Spirit’s enterprise production system. Robust enterprise architecture should provide enough detail to support the IT decisions made throughout the production lifecycle. Since IEs are educated in all aspects of system design, modeling and analytics, these “systems thinking” skills provide a distinct advantage for an IE serving in the role of an enterprise architect.

Enterprise architecture requires collaboration and aggressiveness to accomplish and sustain relevant models of the enterprise. It also relies on a lot of technical savvy. My teammates are among Spirit’s technical best and include managers, engineers and analysts from across the spectrum of Spirit’s business.

The “perfect day” would have a fair amount of intellectual stimulation, either through conversations with my colleagues, engrossing research or heads-down development. It would also have all my meetings be productive, with little disruption by phone calls and e-mail, and ample time to work with others who aspire to the sort of career path that I have been fortunate enough to follow. A good lunch is also a requirement!

At this point in my career, it’s my turn to help ready the next generation of engineers that will progress the IE profession into new areas and technologies. Several colleagues and I are providing our services at local universities in teaching classes, supporting student research projects, consulting on curriculum and providing industry advisory services.

I am currently the director of professional development for IIE’s Greater Wichita Chapter.

– Interview by IIE Web managing editor David Brandt