30 Under 30: Raymond Manning
Boeing Satellite Systems
Playa del Rey, CA
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“From childhood,” Ray Manning’s mother, Holly, said, "Ray wanted to build robots to land on Mars—and then make a service call to fix them.” As a teen, she said, he was involved with FIRST throughout high school, working on everything from concept to design to assembly, and “as a senior he was a team captain.”
Today, Ray is on the path to the stars that he envisioned as a youngster. He is a Control and Dynamics Analyst in the Flight Engineering department at Boeing Satellite Systems.
Ray’s version of the story that his mother told is similar but not identical and provides insight into the dedication, persistence and leadership that brought him to where he is today.
“The FIRST Robotics competition got me interested in manufacturing,” he said, “in making things with my hands. Before that I wanted to do what my father did, computer programming. FIRST got me wanting to do something where you actually make something.”
As he approached his college years, he had his eye on Purdue because of its reputation and because “two members of my mom’s family had gone there.” He was accepted, but the young Floridian didn’t have the funds to pay out-of-state tuition at the Indiana university. Instead he went to the University of South Florida (including a semester as a foreign exchange student at the University of Glasgow). “But I didn’t feel challenged,” he said.
“My parents agreed to help me financially if I transferred to Purdue,” Ray continued. “I was much more challenged there. My GPA was not as good (3.47) as it was at USF (3.8), but it was still enjoyable.” He graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering and a minor in economics.
Ray was offered a number of jobs, but none involved actual manufacturing. He turned them down and set his sights on a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Georgia Tech was on his short list, he said, “because of its reputation. It has a lot of robotics and hands-on stuff. The big plus for Georgia Tech was the campus visit where I got to see all the things I could actually do and not just write stuff on a white board.”
Once again Ray was paying nonresident tuition, but he was determined that situation wouldn’t last. He spent hours introducing himself and his capabilities to the faculty. By the end of his first semester he had been awarded a teaching assistant position and was working with faculty members on their research projects, such as analyzing ways to reduce the vibration in flexible robotics manipulators using feedback control systems with input shaping.
A large part of what he does at Boeing, Ray said, deals “with the simulation side of everything that’s designed here. One thing I deal with is the separation of the launch vehicle from the payload. I analyze to make sure that it will actually do what it is supposed to.”
While Ray looks ahead to the stars, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. He works with an area FIRST team as the mechanisms advisor. “The kids do a lot on a shoestring budget,” he said. “It’s also a very diverse team, with more than 50% of the members being girls.
“It’s a great atmosphere and I have a lot of fun working there. I think the kids appreciate what I do. After all, they tell me they are working on a secret project that has something to do with my wedding this July.” ME