Behind the Scenes at BISim

Jun 25, 2019

Stuart Young is a Product Owner/Team Leader at BISim. Based in our Prague office, he leads a team of developers on projects such as a detailed tank crew trainer and mostly recently an artillery tool in VBS3 where users can schedule artillery to fire at targets.

Before BISim, Stuart studied at the University of York and later Edinburgh, where he created the first Harry Potter-themed walking tour of the city. He then joined IBM UK where he worked as a Business Analyst and Product Owner on projects for UK Government departments and the defense industry - such as designing a mobile testing application for submarines.

BISim: Why did you decide to join BISim?

Stuart: I’m a video gamer and I’m interested in technology. I had a career working as a technology consultant and wanted a new challenge. Working for BISim combines my interest in video games and working with military/government clients.

BISim: Explain your role as Product Owner. How do you describe what you do?

Stuart: I’m Product Owner/Team Leader, a role that combines people leadership with the responsibility for a product. I take input from the stakeholders in the business and the customers’ needs, then I work out how to translate that into a product. Hiring, recruitment and estimation are also important parts of my role.

BISim: What is your work philosophy?

Stuart: My official motto is “we get stuff done.” That’s the guiding principle I work by. I do whatever it takes to get stuff done to make a product. That might mean finding someone to help or delegating to the right team members. My focus is around delivery.

BISim: The company has a set of seven values we work by. Is there one you feel most strongly about?

Stuart: I think self-healing organization is the value I value the most. If we don’t leave things better than we found them, then we will fight the same problems again and again. In short, it helps deliver and gets stuff done. But it also goes beyond the immediate and helps get stuff done in the future.

BISim: What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on at BISim?

Stuart: The CV9040 project for the Swedish Armed Forces. It was great to work on because it’s innovative and is the most detailed vehicle that’s ever been made in VBS. It broke a lot of ground and uses new technology in VBS3. The technology behind the vehicle interaction system is in the VBS Simulation SDK baseline, so customers can create similar web-based components to simulate all kinds of interactions.

BISim: You recently worked on a new VBS CFF (Call for Fire) application in VBS3 that will be introduced in beta form in VBS3 v19.1. How does it differ from the artillery editor object?

Stuart: One way it’s different is that it’s got its own user interface like VBS Chalkboard. The new VBS CFF lets you schedule artillery missions, place targets on maps and uses a workflow. The previous artillery editor object was a very simple simulation. You place the editor object, the area it affects and select some ammo types, and it simulates the terminal effects.

What this does differently is simulates the ballistics and timing of artillery more accurately. You can create gunlines, groups of mortars or howitzers, and make decisions about their spacing, orientation and dispersion patterns. You can also adjust the accuracy of munitions. This also offers you visualization, if desired, of where munitions travel through the air and will land.The VBS CFF add-on also lets you plan future missions for different gunlines to undertake at a planned time in the simulation.

BISim: What was the process like for developing this application in VBS3?

Stuart: We had quite a long period of pre-production where we had a lot of time to work on the UX requirements and what those meant. We had an internal stakeholder who has experience as a JTAC helping with requirements. It was very iterative between the UI developers, UX designers and stakeholders. We would regularly present UX designs and prototypes at every stage of the process. Instead of defining every detail of the look and feel first, as soon as we had enough information to build something, we built basic prototypes and delivered features incrementally, prioritizing the most important simple use cases and building on top of that.

BISim: You come from a gaming background. What are some of your favorites?

Stuart: At the moment, I’m playing What Remains of Edith Finch, it’s a narrative game. I’m also a big Overwatch player. Some other favorites are Half Life 2 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

BISim: During your university days you started a Harry Potter tour. How did that come about and what did you get out of it?

Stuart: I worked as a guide for Edinburgh ghost tours and came up with the idea for doing a Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh, which is where JK Rowling wrote the first books. I grew up with the books and the experience helped me build public speaking skills and gave me skills for building rapport with people. When you’re a product owner, you need to work with teams, cooperate and remove dependencies and blockers. You’ve got to combine the interpersonal with the technical.

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