September 9, 2007Her job: Design engineer, Lockheed Martin
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am a Design Engineer for the C-130, which is a cargo plane manufactured by Lockheed Martin. The C-130 has been around for over 50 years, so sometimes the people who buy the planes want to upgrade it. The upgrades range from newer and stronger wings to more technologically advanced electronic systems (kind of like upgrading from a VCR to a DVD player).
Why did you choose engineering?
I thought engineering sounded interesting, so I joined an organization called TAME (Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering) when I was in middle and high school. We had a few competitions that really sparked my interest. One of them was an egg drop contest. We were supposed to design the lightest as well as the smallest container that would keep an unboiled egg from cracking when it was dropped from different heights. It was interesting to see not only which designs worked, but we would also try to predict which ones would work before the egg was dropped. It was a lot of fun speculating what would happen and then when our predictions were wrong, we would try to figure out why it was wrong.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I went to Georgia Tech and got a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I really enjoy being an engineer because I am constantly learning about how and why things work the way they do. There is so much to learn and I know that I'm just at the tip of the iceberg. At work, I am surrounded by people with many years of experience, so it is interesting to hear how things used to be at Lockheed Martin compared to now, as well as the way the C-130 has evolved over the years.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am proud that I graduated from Georgia Tech with my B.S.A.E (Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering). I struggled with some of my classes in college, which made me debate whether or not engineering was for me. However, I am very glad that I stuck with it because looking back at my college years, I am very proud that I continued to challenge myself and didn't try to find an easier route.
Please tell us a little about your family.
My family left their homeland, Vietnam, when my older sister was about 1 month old. They settled in Texas, which is where I was born and raised until I left for college in Georgia. In Texas, I lived with my grandmother, aunt, dad and sister. My sister has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. She writes computer code for programs that her company wants to use.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you are considering engineering, join an engineering type club at your school. Take part in the competitions that they have. Regardless of if you win or lose, you will have gained so much knowledge from participating in that competition. Actually I find that I learn more from my failures than I do from my success. A saying that I find very true is: Failure is the first step towards success.