Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems
Bachelor of Science
What is your position/employer now?
I am a Software Engineering Manager for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS). Within LM RMS, I am in the TLS (Training, Logistics & Sustainment) business unit in Orlando, Florida. As part of the Engineering & Technology (E&T) organization, we engage in research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. We solve complex challenges, advance scientific discovery, and deliver innovative solutions to help our customers keep people safe and accelerate mission readiness.
How long have you been in this role and what are some of your responsibilities?
I have been with Lockheed Martin for 25 years since graduating in 1997. During this time, I have had the privilege to hold multiple roles across many engineering disciplines including Engineering Project Manager (EPM), System Engineering Manager, and Software Engineering Manager. I am a Certified Control Account Manager (CAM) and Certified Lead Software Engineer. I started my career as a software developer and quickly became a lead developer after one year, leading a team of 10 developers. Throughout my career, I have been leading teams ranging from 10-50 Engineers, developing and delivering Live-Virtual-Constructive Training Systems, Logistics and Maintenance Systems, and Automation Systems for the US Military and UK Ministry of Defence.
Currently, I am leading a program with over 50 engineers to modernize the Logistics and Maintenance Systems for the US Navy.
What do you consider your proudest professional/career accomplishment so far?
I have helped to deliver almost 15 programs at Lockheed Martin, several from the proposal phase all the way through to the system’s acceptance and deployment phase. I am able to perform work at all levels of the engineering spectrum, from developing codes at the lowest level all the way up to communicating with Executives at the highest level.
On one of my past programs, Urban Operations Training System (UOTS), as the Engineering Project Manager, I led the program to develop and deliver the system to over 20 US Army military training sites in just over 1 year. These training systems helped train thousands of our soldiers and maintained their mission readiness.
I am also proud to say that I have helped mentor over a dozen UCF Engineering students with their careers through the UCF CWEP program. Most recently (on January 7, 2023), I received a text from a recent UCF graduate who I met at the Senior Design Showcase. I asked and received approval from the student to share his text message below:
“Hi Phuoc, I wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I know I may have said it before, but you’ve have helped me through a hard time in my life by giving me so many opportunities. But most of all thank you for going above and beyond for me. I very much appreciate you taking charge in mentoring and guiding me through all of this. Despite where I may end up in the future, I will forever be grateful for the path you’ve opened up for me to walk. I’m in a much happier place now, and a good deal of it is thanks to you. I look forward to working together and learning much from you.”
You received both your bachelors and masters degrees from the College of Engineering and Computer Science. What made you choose UCF to pursue your education?
Back in the 90’s, UCF offered a Salutatorian Scholarship for $6000 over 4 years, $1500 per year. It may not sound like much now, but for my family, as immigrants, and myself, as a first-generation student, that was a tremendous amount and the main decision maker. I remained in Orlando after receiving my Bachelor’s and worked for Lockheed Martin in the Training and Simulation industry. Orlando and UCF is the epi-center for Training and Simulation, and it was an easy choice where to pursue my Master’s.
What’s on the horizon for you? (what aspirations do you still want to achieve?)
I have 10 more years until I can retire. During this time, I want to help mentor and train as many of our next generation of engineers as I can. I am also looking to continue contributing towards the University Matching Gift Program at Lockheed Martin to a scholarship that Huong Ly Luu and I recently started to assist future UCF legacy students, the first of its kind at UCF.
What is one of your fondest (or craziest!) memories from your student days at UCF?
This is an easy one. On my very first day of college, going to my very first class, a girl gave me a smile that forever changed my life. That was almost 30 years ago and was also captured as the featured love story for Valentines by the UCF Alumni Association in 2022. Love at First Smile: A UCF Love Story (ucfalumni.com)
A more recent memory of UCF has to do with Spirit Splash. I never got to do Spirit Splash as a student, and it has always been on my bucket list. My daughter is now a student at UCF, and I could not pass on the opportunity to participate. And when I did, I not only caught 1 but 2 ducks! Bucket list item checked. I highly recommend doing it as a student while you still can. You will only get slower and weaker as you age. I was just very lucky to even catch a duck in the crowd of students.
Describe a moment that you felt particularly proud to be a UCF Knight:
There are so many that it is hard to pick just one. I did not expect us to be where we are today in my lifetime. The exponential growth that UCF has had within the past decades has been nothing less than miraculous. Yet, we are still such a young University, and we get to witness and be part of helping to build that foundation. This is an experience that very few students and alumni, if any, at other universities get to experience.
UCF being named one of the most Innovative Universities; a rising leader in Social Mobility; the opening of the Medical College; consecutively winning the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition; the Programming Team advancing to the Programming World Finals; Alumni leading the cure for Covid; experiencing first-hand 100+ National Merit Scholars with my daughter’s incoming class; witnessing in the stadiums our BCS and NY6 Bowl wins; being invited to the Big 12 (a Power 5 Conference),….the list goes on and on… With all of that, I am most proud of seeing our strength grow in numbers, becoming one of the largest universities in the country, and to know that I am a part of that.
Who was one of your favorite (or most memorable) UCF professors and what would you say to that professor today?
Dr. Chopra who taught Engineering Static. I took Dr. Chopra’s class when he first arrived at UCF in 1994/1995. He has always left a lasting impression with me because of how he could break down a problem and be able to clearly communicate it. He was always professional, a great communicator, and you could always tell Dr. Chopra was going to make a difference at UCF. Throughout the years, I watched Dr. Chopra from afar becoming more involved in Leadership at UCF. Finally, this last December, after nearly 30 years, my wife and I had the opportunity to approach Dr. Chopra. We were attending the Military Bowl in Annapolis and staying at the team hotel in Washington DC where Dr. Chopra was also residing. We talked in the hotel lobby, and I thanked Dr. Chopra for being a great professor. We also had a great talk about our families and our involvement and passion with UCF.
You and your wife, fellow UCF alumna Huong Luu, recently established the Nguyen-Luu Legacy Scholarship for undergraduate students at UCF. What motivates you to give back to the university?
Loyalty is one of the most important values in our family. UCF essentially gave us both our family and our careers—it is where we met and where we both started our careers. We owe UCF for both and will forever be loyal knights to the very end. Since we bleed black and gold, it’s only natural for us to want to give back in any way we can. The Nguyen-Luu Legacy Scholarship is specifically geared towards legacy students. Our ultimate goal is to build upon generations and generations of knights.
What would you say to a prospective student who is considering UCF to study engineering or computer science?
First of all, I would encourage them to really enjoy their college years. Have a balance between school and personal life. Make friends who will last a lifetime. Secondly, I would advise them not to purely focus on GPA. Rather, have a balance between a good GPA, internship experience, and a drive to work on personal projects. When I interview candidates for a job, I look for a well-rounded engineer who also has a passion for what they want to do.