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Rolls-Royce North America President and CEO Marion Blakey Discusses Aerospace Advancements and Defense Spending at Dec. 15 Titans Event

On Dec. 15, over 380 members of the region's technology community gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner for a Titans breakfast featuring Marion Blakey, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, a leader in advanced manufacturing. During the event, Blakey discussed Rolls-Royce’s defense and aerospace expertise, provided her insights into the future of federal defense spending, and highlighted the emerging technologies that are transforming the aerospace industry.

Blakey began her address by sharing her predictions for what the new presidential administration will mean for the federal budget and defense spending. She believes that the administration will focus on eliminating the sequestration budget cuts and implementing common sense defense reforms in order to rebuild the military. She expressed her belief that all government contractors must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and focus on providing good quality at reasonable prices.

Blakey shared that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things and hybrid and electric power are rapidly transforming the aerospace industry. She then turned the podium over to Rolls-Royce North America Executive Vice President and General Counsel Thomas Dale to provide additional insights.

Marion Blakey NVTC Titans
Rolls-Royce North America President and CEO Marion Blakey addressed the Titans crowd on Dec. 15.

Dale explained how advancements in one field can end up spurring innovation in other industries. He provided updates on Rolls-Royce North America’s work in areas like personal aircraft (small enough to fit in your garage), hybrid electric powered-planes, supersonic travel and autonomous aircraft. He also highlighted work being done by NASA and the FAA to address air traffic management through both technology and regulation, including a new web-based flight management system that allows drones to communicate with each other and air traffic control.

Big data is another area Dale emphasized as crucial to advancements in aerospace. He shared how Rolls-Royce is collaborating with Microsoft to leverage the use of advanced analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things to collect and analyze data from airline engines to reduce costs, improve performance and provide better value. Dale closed the presentation with a discussion on the importance of STEM education in addressing the talent needs of the aerospace industry.

During a Q&A session with the audience, Blakey discussed how Rolls-Royce relies on universities as incubators to drive innovation. She shared the example of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), where Rolls-Royce is partnering with the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and other companies to jumpstart advancements in manufacturing in an open and collaborative environment -where the company maintains ownership of the IP. Blakey also discussed her personal and professional background and how a passion for safety and policy issues has shaped her career.