Solutions with substance
Raytheon strives to reduce or eliminate the use of materials of concern
A chemist and sustainability advocate, Dayna Lamb found a surprising match for her skills at Raytheon. “I never would have thought I could be a ‘sustainability engineer’ at a defense company,” Lamb says. “But every day I have a chance to bring my personal passion to my job.”
On the global substances engineering team at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona, Lamb seeks new and better ways to eliminate materials of concern from our products and processes. She and her teammates work with customers, suppliers, government agency researchers, academia and our competimates to replace hazardous materials with safer alternatives that still meet quality and performance standards.
That process can include testing, reporting, data analysis, validation, qualification and, ultimately, implementation. It’s challenging work, but crucial for the company and the environment. “We’re looking for reliable performance in critical applications,” Lamb says. “At the same time, it has to be safe for both workers and the planet.”
A TEAM SPORT
David Pinsky, a senior engineering fellow who leads Raytheon’s global substances engineering team, has pursued alternatives to virtually every material of concern during his 32-year career. In the early 2000s, when the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive was announced, Pinsky recognized that Raytheon needed to get out ahead of challenges from the coming regulations. “That’s when I like to say I transitioned from firefighting to fire prevention,” Pinsky says.
He started by developing an algorithm for evaluating the risks associated with the use of pure tin. Today that methodology is employed widely across industry. That success eventually resulted in Pinsky leading our work to reduce the use of toxic substances such as cadmium and hexavalent chromium, which is a known carcinogen. This work also attracted other like-minded problem solvers.
I never would have thought I could be a ‘sustainability engineer’ at a defense company. But every day I have a chance to bring my personal passion to my job. — Dayna Lamb, Raytheon global substance engineer
“What we do here is very much a team sport” — across Engineering, Supply Chain, IT, and R&D — says Pinsky. “Our networking approach allows us to share information, analysis and resources much more effectively.” The result is an efficient and collaborative process with a shorter distance between the problem and workable solution.
LEADING AND LEARNING
Lamb, Pinsky and other global substances engineers are collaborating with NASA to find alternatives to the hexavalent chromium used in bond primers and conductive aluminum coatings. They work with the U.S. Air Force, conducting evaluation and qualification testing for viable and environmentally sustainable marking inks. And in 2015, they began a joint effort with Tuskegee University to evaluate alternatives for cadmium plating on electrical connectors.
Finding safe alternatives to hazardous substances is only half the challenge: Pinsky and his team also must ensure that those alternatives will perform reliably for our customers in critical situations — from combat to air and space travel.
“People’s lives depend on our products, so we have to do this right,” he says.
Lamb appreciates that delicate balance. And she finds it a perfect match with her gusto for solving thorny problems. “If it were easy,” she says, “I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I do.”