November 14, 2013Her job: Senior Project Leader, The Aerospace Corporation
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I currently work in the Corporate Chief Engineers Office at The Aerospace Corporation supporting a variety of tasks.
Why did you choose engineering?
As a child I was always interested in finding out how things worked. I can recall my twin sister and I taking apart televisions and radios to investigate their internal circuit boards. I quickly became the VCR and cable repair person in my family. I also enjoyed playing with remote controlled cars and airplanes.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math from Florida State University, and a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Computer Engineering also from Florida State University.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
Prior to joining the Chief Engineers Office I actively supported a communication satellite program as the Integration and Test lead and helped to successfully launch 3 satellites.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I enjoy being exposed to new and interesting technologies and being able to share my experiences with young people.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am the proudest when I am able to inspire a young person in the fields of engineering, science and math. The moment when you can tell that they are excited about learning and really understand the material is the most rewarding feeling. I am also proud of being able see how the technical work I do on the ground goes on to work in the space environment.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
While in college I was a member of the Varsity Track team, worked part-time and took a number of challenging courses. I learned the importance of time management and the benefits of study groups. With the support of my family I was able to go on to complete my Master's Degree.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am the youngest of six children. My twin sister Dr. Terri Norton is also an engineer. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
I hope to see a 15% increase in the participation of the Aerospace Corporation’s annual Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition. The Herndon Science Competition is designed to expose underrepresented Middle School and High School students to the areas of Engineering and Science. One of my long term goals is to help increase the numbers of students pursuing and completing degrees in Engineering.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My twin sister is my source of inspiration. To see the accomplishments she has been able to make academically, and the impact she has made internationally has been a driving force for me to continue to achieve. I also strive to live a life that is pleasing to God because I know I would not be where I am without him.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you are a creative person that is able to think beyond natural science then engineering is for you. Engineers impact everything in society from transportation, to digital electronics, to eco-friendly clothing. Engineering is no longer just a profession for men but for anyone that is ready for a challenge. The opportunities are endless.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
Outside of work I am very active in my church Soldiers of Jesus Messiah. I provide hands-on workshops to STEM programs in the local community; I am a member of the Society of Woman Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers; I also enjoy crocheting and all types of sports.