Skip to main content

Graduate Seminar Nov. 1, 2021: Reid Melville

Air Force Lessons for Engineering and Innovation

My foundation in engineering skills came from my time in BYU’s Mechanical Engineering Department, but I also added layers of engineering insight from my 30 year career in the Air Force Research Laboratory. I learned systems engineering skills working novel solutions for a range of aeronautical challenges, but also gained perspective on innovation – how to assure that these solutions deliver the intended value. For this seminar, I will recap the stories of several engineering projects and the lessons I learned from the success or failure of each. These projects range from the small, launching an unmanned aerial system from a tube, to the large, moving tons of cargo between continents in hours, to the vital, automating crash avoidance for fighters to save lives.


Dr. Reid Melville holds degrees from BYU, Purdue University, and Stanford University. He has worked in the Air Force Research Laboratory for 30 years, as a computational scientist, as a branch chief, and as a strategy lead. In his career, he oversaw technology programs for automated collision avoidance, automated aerial refueling, airborne sense-and-avoid, and tube-launched SUAS. In 2019, he was tapped to architect new approaches for technology exploitation that better address Air Force capability needs. As the Chief Innovation Officer of AFRL’s Transformational Capabilities Office, he has orchestrated investments in satellite tracking, remote re-supply, aerial re-arming, expeditionary energy solutions, and high-speed platforms with vertical take-off.