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Bringing Hughes technology and service innovations to market demands extraordinary talent from a range of disciplines and a team of bold visionaries with dedicated focus. The Advanced Development Group (ADG) is a centralized functional group within Hughes that actively contributes to all of the company’s businesses through concentrated research and development (R&D) of the latest communications technology. Led by Dr. Lin-Nan Lee, vice president of engineering and an expert in satellite communications, networking, and wireless communications, the ADG is also supported by Stan Kay, vice pres- ident of engineering and a small team of roughly a dozen engineering experts.
“We are a small group and we don’t really want the group to become too big or to be a burden on the bottom line,” Dr. Lee explained. “We just need exceptionally good people, because a great idea from one of them can be worth so much.”
In the mid-1990s, when Dr. Lee first joined Hughes, the ADG focused primarily on wireless technolo- gies. Over time, he expanded that focus to encompass all of the technologies that were fundamental to the company’s new lines of business and meeting customer needs. Major R&D activities typically include modulation, coding, signal processing, multiple access, and data and image compression techniques, with some effort given to practices and algorithms that help improve efficiency and user satisfaction for Hughes broadband services, such as deep packet inspection and available bandwidth estimation. According to Dr. Lee, the team plans its focus for at least 5 years.]
“We anticipate what we’ll be working on and try to explore ahead of the curve,” he explained. For guidance and direction, “We hear from people within the company, from upper management, and other business groups. We also make our own judgments based on all types of trade journals, newsletters, and publications that we read. We make sense of what’s real and what’s fluff, and make adjustments.”
While all of the members of the ADG team are dedicated R&D resources, they also lend their engineering expertise to different projects companywide. “We like the mix. We can’t just do research for its own sake; we’d get too isolated and our work would be at risk of becoming irrelevant to what’s going on with the rest of the company,” Dr. Lee said. Working with various business groups enables the team to better support innovation, keep pace with, and drive industry trends.