December 4, 2005Her job: Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer, The Aerospace Corporation
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I have been at The Aerospace Corporation for eighteen years and am currently a project manager working on the design and development of the Space Based Infrared Satellite System. My responsibilities include the software that operates and navigates the satellite. Aerospace Corporation is a "think tank" for Air Force satellite systems and I am part of a team that provides space systems architecture and engineering services.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California
What do you like best about being an engineer?
What I like most about my engineering career is the variety of exciting challenges that appear unexpectedly. One of my first challenges was being the technical liaison with NASA for developing a special "space suit" that was to protect propellant handlers on the satellite launch sites from life-threatening chemicals. Besides worrying about the design of the back packs that provide the wearers with air, I also became a guinea pig for modeling and demonstrating the self-contained suit.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
One memorable challenge was managing some of the Department of Defense experiments that were flown on the Space Shuttle. Through this, and various safety related work assignments, I became part of a Shuttle "landing team" at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert in California. The magnitude of the team's importance really impressed me when I was told that our assigned cars had huge numbers painted on their tops. This was done so that if we were stuck in traffic with the hoards of tourists arriving to watch the Shuttle landing, NASA could find us and pluck us up into helicopters for delivery on the Shuttle landing strip to be available for our critical assignments.
Please tell us a little about your family.
After graduating from college, I opted to marry (John), and raise a family (daughter, Alexis, and two sons, Chris and Nick) instead of entering the work force right away. When I decided to re-enter the engineering work force, a National Science Foundation program for re-entrant women engineers and the Society of Women Engineers provided a support network and vital information that enabled me to get where I am today.