Enid Bray mixes engineering and HR at L-3 Link
She came from Puerto Rico to the mainland just for an engineering degree, but stayed and pursued a career that uses both her engineering and people skills
'What I do is close to human resources,” admits Enid Bray, “but the difference is my engineering background.” Bray is a multi-discipline functional manager at L-3 Link Simulation & Training (Arlington, TX). L-3 Link is a training systems company supplying advanced simulation systems and training services to U.S. and international military services, civil airlines and commercial organizations. It is a division of L-3 Communications.
Bray works in the company’s Orlando, FL location, responsible for planning, directing, training, and overseeing engineering activities. She also analyzes program resource requirements, trends, and workloads, provides risk management consultation, and conducts process education and awareness.
“I deal with everything related to Orlando engineering employees,” she explains. “This includes hiring, training and making sure people have everything they need to do their jobs. I am multi-discipline because I have software engineers, systems engineers and test engineers in my group.
“I make sure that we are staffed properly for all of the programs that we handle. I perform skills analysis to see that we have what we need; if not, I will be hiring.
“Before this management role, I was a software engineer,” she says. “So I know exactly what they need to do their job.” Three dozen people report to Bray directly.
Most of what Orlando does is simulations, focusing mainly on the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT) program. L-3 Link is the prime contractor to the U.S. Army and Army National Guard in building and delivering twenty-three mobile, reconfigurable AVCATT suites. Its Disruptive Technologies group explores radically new technologies that can be applied to current and future programs.
Each AVCATT suite has six reconfigurable simulators that can represent four different U.S. Army helicopter platforms. Depending on what the instructor needs to accomplish, he can reconfigure the mix to create a simulated mission, delivering highly realistic tactical training scenarios for the crews. AVCATTs can also be networked to train several crews at once.
Bray grew up in Puerto Rico. Her family noticed her math and science abilities early on, and encouraged her to develop those strengths. She started college at Humacao Community College (Humacao, PR).
“I decided that I wanted to pursue an engineering degree, and I wanted to go to the United States so I could become more fluent in English,” she remembers. “I came here in 1984 and graduated with a BS in computer engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF, Orlando, FL) in 1987.”
Challenge and adventure
“When I transferred to UCF, there were only a few women, and even fewer Hispanic women, in my classes. It was hard coming to a new country, learning a new language, and being away from my family in Puerto Rico, but I wasn’t discouraged. I knew that I had to finish what I’d started.
“The idea was to come here for my degree but then return home to get a job. The job market was tough, and I couldn’t find one right away. UCF didn’t have career fairs like they do now, but I met someone in the university’s career services who recommended that I get a co-op for some experience. That’s exactly what I did, and I ended up staying.”
In 1988, Bray’s co-op was at telecom equipment and electronics manufacturer Stromberg Carlson (now Siemens Corporation, Boca Raton, FL). She worked as a software engineer assistant.
Six months later, she got her first full-time job at ECC International (now Cubic Corporation, San Diego, CA), which built maintenance simulators. Bray started as a simulations analyst, later becoming a technical lead. “That was my first management job, but after ten years I knew I had to leave in order to expand my skills as a software engineer.”
Bray joined MRJ Technology Solutions (now Veridian Information Solutions, Colorado Springs, CO) in 1998 as a senior software engineer. Two years later, she went to General Dynamics Decision Systems (later merged with General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, AZ) as a staff software engineer.
She came to L-3 Link Simulation & Training in 2005. “I had a friend here who told me that they were looking for a functional manager,” she recalls. “I started right away. I was able to use all my previous experience as an engineer. I did all the software development work: requirements analysis, design, coding and testing. I even sold the trainers. Now I manage people who do what I used to do.”
A hands-on manager
“I think the people who report to me would tell you that I am very approachable,” Bray believes. “I’m really hands on. If they have a problem, they know that I will do everything I can to help them. I care about them.”
Because she does a lot of student hiring, Bray was invited by the University of Central Florida to represent L-3 Communications on the university’s experiential learning advisory board, working with engineering and computer science students. In fact, the man who invited her to join is the same person who, years ago, encouraged her to get that co-op job.
She is in her third year on this board. “It is a big difference from when I was in school,” she smiles. “Today I see more and more females coming in. I work with them on their resumes and interview problems, help that wasn’t available to me when I was in school. I tell them how lucky they are!
“I really enjoy my job,” Bray says with enthusiasm. “I see myself doing the same type of job, but perhaps on a larger scale, as the Orlando office continues to grow. As Orlando grows, I will grow with it.”
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