Raytheon Technologies Research Center: an enduring innovation hub

They’re adapting electrical power as a way to propel planes, reduce their carbon emissions and advance toward truly sustainable commercial aviation. They’re developing trustworthy artificial intelligence that will advise military commanders, civil aviation authorities and severe-weather responders who have to make fast and critical decisions.

They’re using heat exchangers to keep electronics and engines cooler, optimizing their performance and giving rise to new generations of commercial jets, military aircraft, radar systems, high-performance computers and other technologies that are core to the future of aerospace and defense.

These are just some of the ways the center’s corps of engineers solve hard technological problems and give the company’s businesses an edge in developing the products and services its customers need.

“We do the hard stuff,” said Andreas Roelofs, the center’s director, “and what we do also makes the planet better and the world safer."

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of the staff hold advanced degrees

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hold doctorate degrees

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U.S. patents secured every year (average)


countries represented by RTRC researchers

The center’s roots go back to its founding in 1929 as part of the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company. Since then, it has served as a hub of innovation for products and services. Most recently, the center’s research has focused on commercial aviation engines such as the GTF engine, as well as advanced military radars and hypersonic systems. Its work in hybrid electric propulsion with Pratt & Whitney Canada and Collins Aerospace is helping integrate that technology into a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 flight demonstrator.

The center has about 300 professionals, mostly engineers, including some who work from a West Coast campus in Berkeley, California. Since the merger of United Technologies Corp. and the Raytheon Company in 2020, the center has sharpened its focus on aerospace and defense and has put even greater emphasis on integrating its research with the needs of the company’s four businesses.

In many cases, a business will come to the center with a direct request to solve a problem. Pratt & Whitney, for example, asked researchers in machine learning to develop an algorithm that can quickly analyze data from engine-blade scans to provide early identification of microscopic flaws.

Writing that algorithm took six months, but the payoff was clear: once it was up and running, it took only two hours to analyze data from 4,000 blades that had been flagged by human inspectors for further investigation. The algorithm helped recover more than 800 blades.

Part of the center’s appeal is that the staff spends much of its time either improving existing products or developing technology that’s new altogether.

“The farther-out ideas come mostly from us,” Roelofs said.

“We do the hard stuff, and what we do also makes the planet better and the world safer."

Andreas Roelofs | director | Raytheon Technologies Research Center

Those breakthroughs often have applications in both aerospace and defense. For example, the center used the same high-bandwidth megawatt-class power emulator for two very different tasks: it simulated takeoff, cruising and landing in a hybrid electric engine to see how the components performed, and it evaluated the power quality of the electrical grid in next-generation Navy ships.

Roelofs, who led research of integrated nanotechnology at Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining the center in 2019, said the direct application of science into physical products distinguishes the center from basic-science research labs.

“I used to study physics in Germany,” he said. “Physics is great in itself, but personally, I get really excited when it makes an impact.”

The researchers themselves come from a wide range of engineering and scientific disciplines, allowing the center to assemble teams that can address most any challenge. Each year over the past several years, the center’s researchers, on average, have been named on more than 175 U.S. patents; many of these inventions are also filed and granted as patents in other parts of the world. The researchers also represent more than 30 countries, which underscores that the center – like Raytheon Technologies itself – attracts talent from all over the world.

The center has numerous partnerships with U.S. federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense, all of which provide funding; and the center also engages in joint projects with research universities and national labs. Those projects not only extend the breadth of the center’s work – they also strengthen the pipeline for a new generation of talent.

Even though the research center works in relative obscurity, Roelofs said the rewards come when colleagues across the company show thanks for solving a problem or improving a product.

“That makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “That’s also our competitive advantage.”