Could you tell us about the background of your career?
I have been lucky enough to work on some exciting programs. My first job was working on the external tank of the Space Shuttle outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. Following that position, I worked for a number of years on designing, analyzing and testing composite parts in aircraft engines. I then moved on to support the servicing missions for the Hubble Space Telescope. From there, I had the opportunity to work on variety of satellite programs. Some of the satellites I have worked on were for planetary missions including Juno, Dawn, and the Mars Rovers programs. I am now working at Cobham’s Westminster, Maryland office on a variety of composite programs.
What are the highlights of your career?
I worked onsite at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California for a number of years. It was exciting and rewarding to be part of such an immersive engineering community. One of the highlights of my time at JPL was working on the Mars Rovers: Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. It is very cool to show my children that I worked on something that is now on Mars!
Why did you choose a career engineering?
I loved calculus in high school, and my calculus teacher suggested I try engineering. I had never thought of engineering as a career. My parents were art teachers, and I was going in that direction. I have found that even though engineering involves a lot of math, it is also a very creative job.
What are the biggest challenges of your job?
Forcing myself to stop for lunch!
Each day I set goals for myself and work hard to get everything accomplished. My day flies by and the tendency is to keep pushing.
What are your thoughts on the importance of diversity within engineering and in the workplace?
It may seem like an easy answer, but diversity in the workplace helps foster diverse ideas. Mission success is seldom (if ever) achieved by one person – it takes a community of people with diverse skillsets and ideas, working together, to accomplish the amazing things we do.
Why should someone consider a career at Cobham?
I would tell you that my position at Cobham is exciting. Each day I am learning something new. I get to participate in a variety of programs from the initial bidding stage to final product delivery - with so many exciting steps in-between. It is particularly rewarding to have the opportunity to support many facets of the engineering process such as hardware design, assembly, integration and testing.
It is important to note that no one is locked into a particular role, and this creates a huge opportunity to learn and continue to grow as an engineer.
Most importantly, I immensely enjoy the collaborative and supportive workplace!
What does International Women in Engineering Day mean to you?
In the United States, only about 20 percent of new engineering grads are women and the percentage of practicing female engineers is even lower (around 11%). But the trend is on an upswing. For instance, in 2016 Dartmouth College granted 52% of its undergraduate engineering degrees to women, making it the first national research university to award more bachelor’s degrees in engineering to women than men.
I am fortunate that I had people in my life at an early age that suggested engineering as a career option. It is exciting to see that International Women in Engineering Day is working to encourage more women to consider engineering as a career.