Engineering the Enterprise within the DoD and the VA
Enterprise engineer John Shottes is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in modernizing their enterprise architecture.
Change is at the heart of John Shottes' MITRE career. Now an enterprise architect in MITRE's Center for Enterprise Modernization (CEM) in McLean, Va., his 27-year career here has also included time at MITRE's Bedford, Mass., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Huntsville, Ala., locations.
When he first came to MITRE in 1985, Shottes worked in Bedford supporting the Department of Defense's Space Defense Operations Centers. He was involved in requirements, architecture development, modeling and simulation, and software development. That work later transitioned into support for the Cheyenne Mountain upgrade in Colorado. This was a large-scale integrated modernization of the technical infrastructure and systems at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the DoD underground operations center in the Rocky Mountains. MITRE has been integral to Cheyenne Mountain since its inception.
As his involvement in space and missile warning expanded, Shottes' management asked if he would move to Colorado Springs and lead a systems engineering, integration, and test team for the Cheyenne Mountain improvements. "I went for three years and ended up staying for nine," he says. "The work was extremely interesting and continually evolving. I started as a project director and later became chief engineer."
"Colorado is a great place to live. My family and I really enjoyed the years we spent there."
Heading Back East
While he was happy in Colorado, when he received an opportunity to work with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and its Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) program office in Arlington, Va., he didn't hesitate to accept it.
"This was another one of those assignments that built on the work I was currently doing. In my new position as chief engineer of a program office for the MDA, I was responsible for organizing the federally funded research and development center [FFRDC] technical support for all design, development, integration, and test functions." Later, as the chief architect, he managed a variety of engineering and architecture resources to help mitigate several complex integration issues for the MDA.
After four years in Virginia, MITRE offered him another opportunity—this time at the MDA in Huntsville, Ala. "It was a new venture for MITRE and for me personally. The MDA had just established the C2BMC Knowledge Center, and I was brought in as the new director. I focused primarily on initiating technical assessments and creating a shared repository of technical recommendations and lessons learned for the MDA."
This was a limited-duration assignment. "I knew that the Knowledge Center would rotate to a different director after two years. So during the last six months of the assignment, I took the time to reflect on what I had been doing and what I wanted to be doing in the future. I looked at all the different types of projects happening across MITRE and our work with the Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] really appealed to me."
Support for Our Nationís Veterans
This move brought Shottes to the McLean campus where he joined CEM, the FFRDC MITRE operates for the Internal Revenue Service and is co-sponsored by the VA.
Now he supports the VA and its efforts to be an integrated enterprise capable of the seamless delivery of benefits to the nation's more than 20 million veterans. "My VA work is a logical extension of what I was doing with my support to DoD programs. I've always enjoyed working on end-to-end systems engineering projects and architecture issues. And I saw lots of opportunity to apply cross-cutting systems engineering and help the VA address some of the challenges it's facing."
He says communication is key. "Building a highly functional and cost-effective enterprise architecture relies on good communication. You can do the technical work, but if you don't articulate the goals and purpose, you'll fail."
"I think one of the main reasons I've been happy at MITRE for more than 25 years is that I've always been very interested and engaged in my work. I appreciate that I'm able to interact with senior-level people at our sponsor organizations and that my work has a positive impact on their mission."
He also values the trust MITRE management has in its employees. "Senior management really encourages us to take on new responsibilities with new projects or new locations. MITRE has confidence in us to do the right things for our sponsors."
"Looking back, I would say that my favorite project is always the one I am working on," he adds with a laugh. "I've really liked the people I've worked with. Plus, for me a big benefit to relocating is that I have friends in a lot of nice places. I've enjoyed my time at each one."
—by Kay M. Upham
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