CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Rockwell Collins Inc., a U.S.-based developer of communications- and aviation-electronics systems, is moving forward with plans to open a new engineering-design center in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, which the company says will help satisfy its growing need for engineering talent.
Raj Aggarwal is vice president of global technology at Rockwell Collins.
The massive, multi-level facility – currently under construction in one of the city’s special economic zones – will be dedicated to hardware and software development, with initial work focusing on the design of displays and flight-management systems. Known simply as “Building 11,” it is slated to open sometime between March and June 2009, and could someday employ more than 500 people. The company is currently recruiting engineers and support personnel to staff the center.
“Our new facility in India will enhance our presence in this emerging region and provide us with increased access to high-quality engineering and design talent,” Nan Mattai, Rockwell Collins senior vice president of engineering and technology, said.
Raj Aggarwal, Rockwell Collins’ vice president of global technology and special projects, said the company has signed a lease agreement for approximately 15,000 square feet of space in a nearby 15-story building that it plans to move into as early as this summer and use until Building 11 opens in 2009. The company will move into its temporary office space with a crew of 20, including executive leadership and technical and support staff.
“Each of these buildings that Rockwell Collins will be occupying has close to a million square feet; each floor is something like 40,000 to 50,000 square feet,” he said. “We are starting out small – we have rented the top two floors of a 15-story building that we hope to move into either this summer or in October – but we will be moving into nearly 90,000 square feet of space around June of 2009.”
Rockwell Collins will lease 90,000 square feet in a new 15-story facility in Bangalore, which is scheduled to open in 2009. The company plans to employ up to 500 workers and is currently recruiting engineers and support personnel. Photo courtesy of Rockwell Collins
Aggarwal said the company initially considered several other Indian cities for the new engineering facility, but ultimately settled on Hyderabad because of the support that it received from the Andhra Pradesh government. “We looked at Bangalore, Pune, Chennai and Delhi, but we concluded based on our studies and analysis that Hyderabad was the right location in which to open this center,” he said. “It turns out that even though we are at the leading edge of our industry, we will not be the only company setting up shop in India as time goes by; Andhra Pradesh is very supportive of our industry, given that some of the public-sector units such as [Electronics Corp. of India Ltd.] are located in Hyderabad.”
Rockwell Collins employs more than 20,000 workers at 65 locations in 27 countries; the Cedar Rapids-based company already has a presence in India through a relationship established six years ago with Indian IT-services firm HCL Technologies Ltd. That venture, which the two companies renewed in June 2007, employs more than 300 HCL engineers, professionals and experts at Rockwell Collins’ offshore design centers in Chennai and Bangalore, where they perform design, development and testing of software and hardware products.
“A fair amount of our workers are based in Iowa, but we also have a major presence in California and Texas,” Aggarwal said. “Internationally, we have large operations in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Mexico. We got our start in India with HCL back in 2001, so our Hyderabad facility represents an expansion of our Indian operations.”
Rockwell Collins designs and manufactures communications and aviation electronics for government agencies and commercial enterprises around the world. The firm’s government systems arm develops communications systems and products that help its customers transfer large amounts of information; military data link systems and related products; and navigation systems and products, including radio-navigation systems, global positioning systems, handheld navigation systems, and multi-mode receivers. It also provides subsystems for the flight deck comprising flight controls and displays, information/data processing and communications, navigation, and/or safety and surveillance systems; cockpit display systems, integrated computer systems, and simulation and training systems. This segment serves the U.S. Department of Defense, other government agencies, civil agencies, defense contractors and foreign ministries of defense.
Rockwell Collins’ commercial systems segment manufactures integrated avionics systems. The latter includes passenger connectivity and entertainment, business-support systems, network capabilities, passenger-flight information systems, and lighting and other environmental controls; and situational awareness, and surveillance systems and products. It also provides flight-deck systems, integrated information systems and electro-mechanical pilot controls.
Rockwell Collins Inc. was founded in 2001 when the now-defunct American industrial-equipment manufacturer Rockwell International Inc. spun off its avionics division. However, Rockwell Collins’ business dates back to 1933, when American inventor Arthur Collins founded the Collins Radio Co. in Cedar Rapids for the purpose of designing and producing shortwave radio equipment.
Collins Radio grew steadily over the years, and even supplied the communications equipment used by Rear Admiral Richard Byrd during his successful expedition to the South Pole in 1933.
The company also developed communications equipment used by U.S. space agency NASA for projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. But after facing financial difficulties, Collins Radio Co. sold itself in 1973 – the same year that it supplied communications equipment to NASA for the Skylab space station – to Rockwell International.