Careers in O.R.
ProfileS - Andy Burles

Andy Burles

Defence Science & Technology Laboratory

I graduated from the University of Exeter with a 1st class BSc (Hons) in Mathematical Statistics and Operational Research.  I joined the Air & Weapon Systems Department of Dstl, the Defence Science at Technology Laboratory, based at a site near Portsmouth.

My early work provided O.R. on technologies and tactics for improving battlefield helicopter survivability.  On the way I devised and calibrated a technique for statistically reproducing observed patterns of radar, visual and thermal imager detections of low flying attack helicopters whilst correcting for differences between terrain databases and real-world lines-of-sight.  My helicopter experience was then applied to the multi-role Typhoon fighter, producing experimental designs for air combat computer simulations of improved engine fuel consumption, active array radars and missiles.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) introduced scientific audits of capability, which is sometimes viewed as the performance of systems of systems measured against the predicted requirements of future military operations.  Here, I provided mathematical solutions to unify varied formats of O.R. results into a single audit of airborne, ground- and sea-based air defence.

Secondment to MOD Head Office in London followed where for three years I was the air defence science advisor in the Equipment Capability branch, driving a new focus away from conventional Cold War air defence threats towards the new challenges posed by Difficult Air Targets, such as unmanned air vehicles and insurgent rockets and mortars.

Upon returning to Dstl as the Capability Advisor for Air Defence, I held responsibility for advice on technology research priorities, research programmes and O.R. to quantify their need, prioritisation, cost-effectiveness and affordability.

Recently, I moved again to become a Capability Demand Manager within MOD’s Defence Equipment & Support organisation in Bristol to lead O.R. for the Complex (i.e. guided) Weapons sector, informing on priorities for the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review and quantifying the combat effectiveness and cost benefits from increased technology commonality, modularity and re-use (CMR).

Wider opportunities have included international research programmes, monitoring air exercises in Nevada, Alaska and Germany, and directing an MSc project.  My conclusion on a career on O.R.?  The maths just gets you started!        

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