Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



December 2010/January 2011

Diversity/Careers December 2010/January 2011 Issue

Women of color in defense
Pharma & biotech
Systems engineers
LGBT in tech
NJIT honors Renard
Grace Hopper

Gov't agencies
Skire Corp
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

GE Healthcare

Diversity In Action

There's "a thirst for knowledge" at the Aerospace Corporation

The company has jobs open at all levels, from EE, communications and network systems engineering to cyber security and quantum computer research

Victor R. Pagdanganan, HR director:  'a culture that embraces not just a diverse workforce but appreciation for it.'One of the great things about the Aerospace Corporation (El Segundo, CA) is that its employees pride themselves on development, says Victor R. Pagdanganan, HR director.

"A large majority of the workforce already has advanced degrees. There's a thirst for knowledge here," Pagdanganan says.

The Aerospace Corporation, founded in 1960, operates a federally funded R&D; center. It performs objective technical analyses and assessments for government, civil and commercial customers, including the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency and other government agencies, plus universities, research organizations and commercial firms.

The company has a variety of jobs open at all levels: EE, communications and network systems engineering, RF engineering, ground systems engineering, and IT including cyber security and quantum computer research. Some of the current "hot" jobs are space systems engineering, simulation analysis, programming, computer networking and datacom. Details of jobs are listed on the company's career website.

"Beyond technical skills, we pride ourselves in developing the ability to work in teams in matrix environments, effectively communicating thoughts and offering technical opinions in a concise way that everyone understands," Pagdanganan says. On resumes, he advises, applicants should highlight projects they worked on, the project teams and their roles within the teams and how they worked within the group.

Most jobs at Aerospace require at least three to five years of experience: seven to ten years for management roles. "We like industry-important experience, but we will hire at different levels, from recent college grads to seasoned professionals," Pagdanganan notes.

Hiring in 2010 was "robust"; Aerospace is proud that there have been no layoffs in the last five years.

The company supports professional networking organizations for diverse techies: SWE, NSBE, SHPE and AISES. Recruiters attend national conferences and partner with chapters on college campuses. Aerospace is a member of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM).

The company works with high schools and has longstanding partnerships with HBCUs: Prairie View A&M;, Southern University, Tuskegee and Howard, and Hispanic- and Native-serving schools like U Texas-El Paso, Texas A&M; and New Mexico State.

Aerospace has a "great orientation program," for new hires, plus courses offered through its internal Aerospace Institute, Pagdanganan notes. The organization is "very supportive. You can call on anyone, regardless of level, and everyone is extremely helpful," he says.

Once on the job, employees enjoy heritage months and heritage festivals. The company has "a culture that embraces not just a diverse workforce but appreciation for it," Pagdanganan says.

There's also the Aerospace Diversity Action Committee, chaired by the CFO with members from business units plus the head of diversity and EEO.

The company has many active affinity groups: the Women's Council, plus African American, Asian, Hispanic, physically challenged, veteran, LGBT, American Indian and Alaskan Native groups. Some groups send speakers to local universities and high schools, some sponsor networking events or put on heritage festivals.

The company recently rolled out a formal mentoring program available to all employees. It starts with an orientation seminar on what it means to be a mentor, "But beyond the formal programs, it's just a very collegial environment here," Pagdanganan says.

The organizational development department is working on a "robust" succession planning model. The EEO and diversity office meet regularly with hiring managers to talk about the opportunity to promote the diverse population.

Besides the competitive benefits package, Aerospace offers other perks like flexible work schedules and eight paid holidays a year. There are clubs from cycling to scrapbooking, child and eldercare resources and referral services, fitness facilities, sports leagues, a gym membership at a nearby Air Force base, an onsite credit union and a barber shop: "just great benefits and perks," Pagdanganan says.

Top it all off with tuition reimbursement, technical and leadership training through the Aerospace Institute, an onsite library, access to seminars and conferences and a rotation program for technical fields. "We have a lot of programs in place," Pagdanganan concludes with pride.


Headquarters: El Segundo, CA
Employees: About 4,000
Revenues: $867.9 million in fiscal year 2009
Business: Nonprofit company that provides technical guidance and advice on all aspects of space missions to military and civilian customers to assure space mission success

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