Military Testing with Stephen Gaudet ’11

Photo by Jack Diven.

The places where Stephen Gaudet works these days are not very hospitable—unless you’re a rattlesnake or a coyote. He gets up at 4:30 in Salt Lake City and drives an hour and a half west into the desert, arriving at the Utah Test and Training Range. It’s dark and cold—15 below zero some mornings. He is there to test and evaluate a powerful long-range surveillance radar system that looks like a giant blimp. The system, JLENS, was developed by Raytheon to help the military detect threats aimed from land, sea, and air.

It is a job he prepared for with a major in applied physics and an intensive master’s degree in business, entrepreneurship and innovation. He is the first Saint Anselm graduate to take advantage of a recent partnership with the University of Notre Dame that allows science majors to enter a professional master’s program called ESTEEM.

Gaudet accepted a job in the software engineering department at Raytheon, an Andover, Mass., based defense technology company. He now spends most of his time as an integration and testing engineer on sites in Utah and New Mexico. The equipment he works on is part of a multimillion dollar project that is in its late stages of development.

“It’s a very successful project. We’re at the point where soldiers come in routinely and we run missions with them and train them, and they’re excited about using it,” he says. By allowing 360-degree continuous surveillance for up to 30 days aloft, the helium-filled “aerostat” saves on manpower and cost, he says. “It’s going to be used by the government to do a number of things related to defense and target recognition and tracking.”

There are daily challenges on the test site, where Gaudet works on software and hardware for 12-hour shifts—often harnessed underneath the airborne equipment. New codes for the software, developed by engineers in Andover, are tested on a daily basis. Finding solutions to technical issues that come up in testing is his responsibility.

Gaudet always wanted to work for a large technology company and applied to Raytheon twice before entering the ESTEEM program. He started his job with the company a week after getting his master’s in hand.

“During many of the interviews I had, whether it was for engineering, project management, consulting, or development programs, each company said they were attracted to seeing the ability to complement business skills with a strong technical background,” he says. “They said it’s a very rare combination to have, and it seemed to always stand out to companies looking at my resume. Eventually, I’d like to transition into a managerial or project management position, where I can use the integrated skills of science and business I learned in my master’s program.