ManTech works directly with US security to ensure that national defense systems are equipped with technology that will best assist key leaders in high-pressure moments. Dr. Douglas Orellana, who works as vice president of intelligent systems engineering within ManTech’s Innovation and Capabilities Office, keeps this mission close to his heart.
Orellana grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, right in between MIT and Harvard. Within this cradle of academic and technological research, Orellana discovered a passion for engineering and decided to embark on a journey that would mark him as an innovator respected by academics and industry leaders alike.
“I knew early on that I would be an engineer,” Orellana reflects. “My middle school had a partnership with Draper Labs and MIT, and that kind of exposure spurred me to become an engineer. As an eighth grader, I got to tour around those labs, and the stuff that they were doing was really interesting to me. So from that point on, I knew I wanted to be an engineer.”
Orellana soon enrolled at Johns Hopkins as an electrical engineering student. During his undergrad years, Orellana spent two summers as an intern at BAE Systems. The experience deeply influenced him, igniting his enthusiasm for defense technology.
“The mission and motto of BAE systems was ‘Protecting those who protect us,’ and that always hit home, especially with some of my family members being in the armed forces,” Orellana says. “Since then, I’ve worked at different companies, in different roles and different aspects of defense—but that line has always stuck with me.”
Upon graduation, Orellana began working at Northrop Grumman, where he cut his teeth as an electronics engineer. There, he discovered that furthering his education could make him even more of an asset to the company, helping him gain new expertise from an environment that prioritized research. He enrolled in a system engineering master’s program at his alma mater while he moved up the ranks at Northrop.
In the course of his eleven years with the company, Orellana worked his way up to the role of manager of system architecture and analysis. “I really grew up as an engineer at Northrop,” he says. “In particular, the first five years gave me the mindset of pushing forward, not just for the company but for the practice as well.”
Two years after completing his master’s, Orellana went back to school again, this time in pursuit of a PhD in astronautics and systems architecting and engineering at the University of Southern California. After completing his degree, Orellana spent a couple years at SAIC before joining ManTech in September 2020.
As Orellana explains, he joined ManTech to help the organization pivot away from system engineering technical advisory work toward a role where they could become a larger systems integrator. “Part of my role is to help our business development organization help shape opportunities that are coming in the future with the technology that I bring,” Orellana explains. “It’s all part of helping ManTech embrace digital transformation for engineering.”
ManTech’s overall mission can be summed up in its mantra: “Bringing digital to the mission.” In other words, Orellana says, the company seeks to prepare warfighters with technology that can speed up their decision-making. “We want to help them make the right decisions with the right information at the right time,” the VP says. “Seconds can be the difference between life or death on the battlefield.”
Orellana’s primary focus is on his day-to-day work at ManTech, but he also manages to keep a toe in academia by contributing to academic papers. This connection allows him to facilitate partnerships with ManTech and major academic bodies, like MIT and the University of Detroit–Mercy.
Orellana encourages everyone to seek out educational opportunities, whether they’re a teenager or an experienced professional. He attributes this passion to his parents, who immigrated to the US from El Salvador and encouraged him to pursue higher education. “I always told my parents the bachelor’s degree was for them and all the advanced education I got was for me,” Orellana jokes. Then, on a more serious note, he adds, “Understanding the journey that my parents took to get to this country . . . that’s been the biggest motivation for me to move forward in my career and my studies.”
It is a great pleasure to honor Douglas for his contributions and vision in advancing manufacturing through cutting-edge technology. SBE Vision has emerged as the technology leader in the digital thread/digital engineering software market as a byproduct of our collaboration with Douglas and ManTech Corporation. Serving the DOD as well as the aerospace and automotive markets, SBE Vision tackles the most complex interoperability problems of product development organizations.