By Arkansas Next on Monday, October 25, 2021

Casey Forbess is a project engineer for Lockheed Martin working on new business and digital transformation. He helps envision and create new product lines at the facility as well as work on technology and automation projects.

“I enjoy trying to anticipate the future and help make it happen,” Forbess says.

In recent years, Forbess has helped develop extended reality (XR) capabilities in Camden, which has largely been focused on virtual factory builds where employees can “walk” through a theoretical layout in virtual reality (VR). This is important because, traditionally, building design and facility layouts are displayed and communicated through 2-D programs.

“I’ve found that not everyone can stare at a 2-D print and truly conceptualize what it means in 3-D space,” he says. “Doing virtual builds enables everyone to participate, understand and provide input.”

Forbess and his team are also investigating using XR to train employees, deliver work instructions and help with collaborative mixed reality (MR) communication through various computer-aided design, animation and game engine software.

Forbess’ mom, who was also his physics teacher at El Dorado High School, encouraged him to be an engineer because of how in-demand the field was. He took her advice and got a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas.

Forbess says a software programming background would’ve been helpful because of the coding involved in his job.

“There’s tons of coding software, so no one is going to know all of them, but knowing any of them really well will help you learn the others,” Forbess says. “I’ve been able to teach myself a lot, [but] I wish I had a stronger programming background.

“Going back, I [would choose] the same major, but I definitely would have focused my technical electives on coding.”

Forbess’ employer, Lockheed Martin is the third biggest aerospace company in the world. (

The Job: Aerospace Engineer

Median salary: $118,610*

Education required: Bachelor’s of science degree in engineering (and 33% of aerospace engineers continue to earn a master’s degree)

Related jobs: Mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, flight test engineer, structural analysis engineer, systems engineer

*U.S. median via

Aerospace by the Numbers

The U.S. aerospace industry employs more than 500,000 workers in scientific and technical jobs across the nation. (

Aerospace and defense represent Arkansas' No. 1 export (even more than agri). (

Nearly 1,300 aerospace jobs added statewide since 2010. (

Arkansas is home to an estimated 180 aerospace and defense companies. (

Say What?

VR = Virtual reality
An entirely immersive simulation where everything is digital.

AR = Augmented reality
Projecting digital media/images into the real world. Imagine Pokemon Go.

MR = Mixed reality
Mixed reality is augmented reality but with the added capability of the user being able to manipulate the digital content with their hands. Requires very specialized hardware such as the Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap.

XR = Extended reality
An overarching term that covers VR, AR and MR.