Rolls-Royce Head of Defense Advocates for Inspiring the Next Generation Written 19 August 2019
by Cat Hofacker, Aerospace America Staff Reporter
AIAA PROPULSION AND ENERGY FORUM, Indianapolis, August 19, 2019 — Rolls-Royce is drawing on its record of innovation to advance the future of aerospace, the company’s president of defense programs Phil Burkholder said here during the morning keynote address “Pioneering the Power That Matters.”
“Over the decades, Rolls-Royce employees have pioneered the power that matters, focusing on innovation and manufacturing thousands and thousands of engines and propulsion technologies for customers worldwide,” he said.
From providing the titanium tanks that helped power the Apollo 11 lunar module to building out the propulsion systems for aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, Rolls-Royce has contributed to advancements in aerospace for over 100 years.
“Whether you’ve seen a TV crew overhead, a police helicopter or a medevac,” Burkholder said, chances are it’s powered by a Rolls-Royce engine. “It makes you proud to be part of making the world a better place.”
But for the next great innovation — whether it’s hybrid-electric aircraft or using digital data to change workflows — he said the company is looking to the next generation to lead the way.
“I don’t know which of those technologies it will be, but I do know the people behind it will be the inspiring force that makes that happen,” Burkholder said.
Having access to that talent is paramount, he said, adding that the company’s headquarters of Indianapolis is an “environment where we can thrive.” Rolls-Royce has about 4,000 employees in the city and engages locally by hosting community events and partnering with schools like Purdue University.
“That partnership has been incredibly important to us,” Burkholder said.
Along with engaging with students to plant a love for aerospace, Burkholder said companies like Rolls-Royce can also inspire the next generation by advancing existing technology. In fact, he said, that’s a role everyone in the industry can play, whether it’s working with agencies like NASA to mature existing technology or conducting research on the next breakthrough in propulsion.“Everyone in this room and what you do in the aerospace industry, you make that possible,” he said.