Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



August/September 2012

Diversity/Careers August/September 2012

NJIT honors D/C
Veterans in technology
Defense tech pros
Medical technology
Chemical engineers
Native Americans
HENAAC STEM conference
MIT's SDM program
Grace Hopper Celebration

WBEs in technology
News & Views
WBENC at 15
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

Bayer CNA
Tennessee SPAWAR

Changing technologies


Diverse professionals in defense save money, time and lives

There is a huge wave of workers who are going to retire once the economy gets better. – Edward Swallow, NDIA

Hard work pays off for these patriotic engineers, who know that their efforts made something better or safer for warfighters

According to Edward Swallow, "Diversity of thought gives you innovation. Innovation gives you market advantage. Market advantage gives you growth. Growth gives you national competitiveness and, as a result, national security." Swallow is chairman of the STEM workforce division at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA, Arlington, VA).

He's concerned that the current tight job market is overshadowing the long-term need for more engineers in aerospace and defense. "Between 2007 and 2009, the aerospace and defense industries had no trouble hiring because a lot of dislocated skilled workers were taking those jobs. Now kids coming out of high school and college are having trouble finding jobs, so people again think there is no problem. But our concern is that there is a huge wave of workers who are going to retire once the economy gets better. About twenty-two percent of aerospace industry people are retirement-eligible right now, and that figure is expected to hit thirty percent in five years."

Today, says Swallow, "more corporations are getting involved in professional organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers to help with college recruitment. We're also seeing much heavier use of employee resource groups and affinity groups for recruiting," he adds.

"Companies are actively recruiting early career people who show promise. Many companies have rotation programs pairing up new employees with more seasoned folks that allow for mentorship and information transfer," Swallow says.

Some of those promising and diverse professionals are featured here, along with their inspiring stories and some lessons.

Yugapriya S. Wing engineers and leads at General Dynamics Electric Boat
Yugapriya S. Wing gives her Sri Lankan parents credit for being good motivators. "They never had to get on me about doing my homework because, with them, failure was not an option," she says.

Wing is a senior engineer at General Dynamics Electric Boat (Groton, CT) and the hydrodynamics technology team leader in the Electric Boat Concept Formulation group. Wing uses computational fluid dynamics and experimental data to solve submarine fluid dynamics problems.

Early talent and ambition
Wing grew up in Texas with an early interest in aerospace engineering. When she was ten years old, she told her father that when she went to college, she wanted to go out of state. He said that if she could get the money, she could go.

And she did. Wing was one of just sixty students nationwide to receive a Park Scholarship from North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC). The scholarship included her tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, travel, and personal expenses as well as a computer stipend. "They even gave me money for food and clothing," she says. "They want you to focus on academics without having to worry about getting a part-time job."

In college, she interned at a fluid analysis company called Computational Engineering International (Apex, NC). "My boss fostered my love of aerodynamics and spoke really highly of Electric Boat," Wing remembers. "EB doesn't use their product at all but he told me that if I wanted to work in hydrodynamics, that was the place to be."

In 2005, Wing earned a BS in aerospace engineering from NC State and then a 2007 masters in aerospace engineering from Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA). For about a year, she was a research assistant at the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel (Hampton, VA). "It's a really big wind tunnel," Wing explains. "It used to be a NASA facility. I got to be a test engineer working on wind tunnel tests for products like heavy trucks, cell phone towers, and experimental submarine designs."

In 2007, she applied to Electric Boat and has been there ever since. "The economy was a little iffy back then but they were hiring a lot of people," Wing says. "That catches your eye."

Wing started out working with statistics to help optimize submarine design. "We were working in a conceptual space," she says. "We weren't really building anything."

Next she spent time learning about submarine signatures, the emitted energy that affects the ship's ability to be detected and targeted. Then she returned to the fluids realm as senior engineer. "As a team lead, I think about the future of our technology: where we will be in fifteen or twenty years. All the team leads meet weekly to brief each other on progress. It's a very collaborative environment."

Wing is a member of the National Defense Industrial Association and Women in Defense, both in Arlington, VA. Earlier this year, she was recognized for her professional accomplishments and technology leadership at the 2012 Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

"What drew me to engineering in the first place is that, yes, it is math and science but there is also room for business," says Wing. "It's not just a calculator and a sheet of graph paper."

Derrick Burton is a straight-shooting IT director at Booz Allen Hamilton
At strategy and consulting organization Booz Allen Hamilton (McLean, VA), Derrick Burton is director of internal IT strategy. "My team and I look into new tools and technologies that help the business win new work, upgrade our business processes or save money," he explains.

Booz Allen consults mainly to the federal government but recently moved back into the commercial and nonprofit arenas.

Burton's team includes about sixty people responsible for five divisions: strategy, testing, analytics, process review and desktop. The head of each team reports to Burton. As a director, he describes himself as an "unintimidating straight shooter" who understands that people do not purposely do the wrong thing; wrong things happen. "No one means to take down the network or to pass on an email virus," he says.

Burton joined the company in 1995 as part of the strategy team. "We were a Mac shop when I first joined, and I came in to help convert to a PC environment. I told my boss that I wanted to do more and he said I would have to move into operations. I did that in 1998, running the email team. Within two years, I was running all operations." Four years later, Burton became a principal at the company.

Burton is from Cleveland, OH and has a 1985 BS from Edinboro University (Edinboro, PA). He began in accounting but switched to business administration. "I was one class away from a minor in computer science," he adds.

Burton accepted a position at Designers & Planners (now BMT Designers & Planners, Arlington, VA), a consulting firm working for the U.S. Navy. "This is where the fire really lit up in me," he remembers. In 1987, he went to Economic Engineering & Research where he programmed data used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Just before he joined Booz Allen, he worked at a law firm as part of a helpdesk team doing asset management. "This is where I really got my IT background wedded into everything," he says. Then a former employee of the law firm who went to Booz Allen put in a good word for him, and he joined the company.

Finding the right hat to wear
"I was exposed to a breadth of opportunities. I was a programmer for a while, then I did some network stuff and then some computer work that helped me figure out what was right for me. I decided that I really like managing people.

"Business helps drive the decisions we make," says Burton. "We're trying to meet a business goal. To me, one of the last bastions for IT is being sure we can translate those business goals into an IT solution."

Tyrone Timmons, Jr of CAE USA: athletics and smarts
It is rare to find someone with a technical background who was also the arena football league's rookie of the year and a franchise record holder.

Tyrone Timmons is a technician II at CAE USA (Tampa, FL), a company that does modeling, simulation and training for civil aviation and defense clients. A native of Tampa, Timmons attended an engineering magnet school in the city.

"Math and science always came easy to me," he says, "and I liked the fact that you can always find just one answer with numbers, not more than one. My father worked for CAE USA, so I was always fascinated with computers and electronics."

He attended Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena, MS) on a football scholarship, where he earned a BS in industrial technology electronics in 2007. Timmons also distinguished himself athletically by finishing second all-time to fellow alum Jerry Rice in receptions and yards.

During college, he interned every summer at CAE USA. After graduation, he went to the National Football League. He was released in 2008 and began his arena football career with the Tampa Bay Storm. He was named 2008 rookie of the year.

His technical and football careers are intertwined. "I came back to CAE USA in 2008," he says, "because I needed to work in the off-season but I left again in 2009 to join the Canadian Football League."

He returned to CAE USA in 2010 to work with the company's visual department, doing commercial and military visual simulation testing. But he wanted to spend one more year in arena football.

"I was playing arena football and working here at the same time," Timmons says. "On Monday through Thursday, I worked early hours so that I could get to practice from 5 to 10 at night. If we had an away game, I would leave Friday around 2 PM, get on a plane and fly to whatever city we were playing in, come back Sunday morning and be ready to start it all again on Monday morning."

As long as football didn't interfere with his job, the company was okay with this arrangement. And after setting the franchise record in 2010 for most touchdowns in a season, Timmons took off his helmet for good.

Now his time at CAE USA is spent supporting its visual department. As part of a small team of professionals, he provides technical support for in-plant testing of simulator devices.

"We work with C-130 aircraft simulators, making sure that pilots see exactly what they are supposed to be seeing," Timmons sums up. "We make sure the channels blend together and that the resolution and focus are good. When pilots train for missions, the simulated landing spot has to look like it does in real life, from the marks on the ground to the trees, the grass and everything."

Timmons expects to move into the visual department later this year. "Once I move into that part, the sky's the limit," he believes.

Inspiring a younger generation to "do it all"
Timmons uses his athletic history to promote education. He's CEO of his own Tampa-based nonprofit program called Resolute Training, a sports training and academic mentoring program for low-income, first-generation high school students.

"I teach them to use their athletic abilities to go to school and get a good education," Timmons explains. "They see that you can have both and be well rounded. To me, that's what 'resolute' means. All my coaches played at a professional level or at a top twenty-five school and all my tutors are certified teachers. Once the kids get to know me and my coaches, they realize that they can do it all."

Jorge Rentas-Alvarez supports IT for biological events at SPA
Jorge Rentas-Alvarez is a senior systems engineer at Systems Planning & Analysis (SPA, Alexandria, VA) where he's worked since late 2009. "However," he smiles, "I can count on ten fingers how many times I have been in SPA's building and still have two left over."

This is because Rentas-Alvarez works onsite at the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) in Washington, DC. "Since I work on the client side, I am in some ways a user of what I do," he explains.

"NBIC provides early warning for biological events that may be either man-made or natural," Rentas-Alvarez explains. "It works in five domains: human, animal, plant, environmental, and food." His work can touch on anything from terrorist threats to mad cow disease.

NBIC does not generate information; rather, as its name says, it integrates information that it receives from other government agencies, from the Department of Defense to the Department of Agriculture. Rentas-Alvarez often has to provide briefs and make presentations to these and other agencies. "We call them user demos, helping them learn more about what we do and how we manage and share the information they provide.

"I am not involved in the actual analysis," Rentas-Alvarez stresses. "We have a separate team that does that. I work on the systems that enable this. I provide requirements to vendors and then act as the user, reviewing the quality of the data. If there is anything that doesn't look right in terms of formatting, we flag it so that the programmers can add filters."

It is a complicated system, he says, with over thirty subsystems. He also provides support tracking metrics that are reported to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the largest component of the Executive Office of the President. "The OMB requires monthly assessments and updates from us," Rentas-Alvarez notes.

From island to mainland
He was born in Puerto Rico and earned his undergraduate degree in science and computer science at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico (Mercedita, PR) in 2002. In his last semester, through the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, he interned at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (College Park, MD) at its helpdesk. "It was my first IT experience and I loved it," says Rentas-Alvarez.

He returned to Puerto Rico in 2003, taking a job as a systems analyst with Tyco Healthcare (now Covidien, Mansfield, MA), a medical solutions provider. "They needed technical help," Rentas-Alvarez remembers. "They had 2,500 employees but there were only five of us in IT."

In 2008, he came back to the mainland U.S., first as a computer scientist for the U.S. Navy and then as a software developer with a contractor to the U.S. Army. Just a few months later, SPA called him.

Rentas-Alvarez would eventually like to get into IT policy and planning. "I've worked the helpdesk," he says. "I've been a programmer, a systems analyst, a software engineer and a systems engineer. Now that I know the user aspects, and what management wants, I want to get into an area where I can lay out IT plans and strategies."

Lots of variety for Overwatch project manager Jennifer Jacobs
"This job was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up," says Jennifer Jacobs, a technical project manager at software developer Overwatch (Austin, TX), a strategic business of Textron Systems Advanced Systems.

Overwatch delivers geospatial analysis and custom intelligence software solutions and services to the Department of Defense, national agencies and civilian organizations.

Most of Jacobs' responsibilities are geared to military clients. "We develop command and control software for different branches of the armed forces," she explains. "It is deployed not only to front line users but all the way up the chain of command. We enable everything from information gathering to assisting with decisions based on that information.

"I ensure the technical execution of every project I support," she explains. "That includes planning, scheduling, risk management and guiding the team through technical issues. I also manage thirty people."

Most team members are software developers who write code, systems engineers who define customer requirements, and test engineers who validate the requirements once the software is produced.

"There is no 'typical day' for me and that's something I really like. Maybe I'll come in and find programming issues, where I can do the engineering side of my job. Maybe there are questions from customers. Or I may have to help someone on the team with a question about their career or something related to their project."

Jacobs believes that her team finds her supportive and genuinely interested in their growth. "I spend one-on-one time with each of them," she says. Her team members include people of all ages, but Jacobs doesn't think much about being a young woman in a managerial role. "It may make things a little more challenging, but I get to learn a lot from that. You just have to decide how to take things," she says. "I've been in each of their positions before so I can bring that background to the job."

A sense of direction
Jacobs is from Illinois but attended Arizona State University (ASU, Tempe, AZ). She intended to become an architectural engineer. "At ASU I learned that I was very good at the engineering side so I changed my major to computer science." She worked in ASU's IT department learning about computer systems and networking, which complemented her studies in software development. Jacobs also developed training skills when she taught software engineering to high school students.

In 2002, she earned her BSCS. She wanted to work in the defense industry to support the troops. She joined a Scottsdale, AZ defense contractor in 2003 as a software engineer. At her company, "a lot of the employees were professors." She was exposed to systems engineering, software development and test engineering, the same disciplines she manages today. "They were responsible for building systems, including hardware and software engineering. Here at Overwatch, we are primarily a software development company."

In 2009, when Overwatch offered her the opportunity to become a manager, she couldn't say no. "Overwatch has a smaller feel and I really like that. We're more involved in programs that require a quick response, so I'm learning how to manage those. This has been a great experience for me."

Jacobs belongs to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE, Chicago, IL). She's working toward both an MBA and a masters in industrial engineering through ASU's online program.

Looking ahead, she confesses to mixed emotions. "I'm not at a point where I want to leave engineering behind because it is ingrained in me, so the next step in my career could be a director of engineering role. That would be a strategic position but still overseeing engineering."

JHUAPL's Ashley Llorens finds common ground in dual career passions
At the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), Ashley Llorens is a project manager and algorithm developer in the Force Protection department. National security is one of the laboratory's main focuses.

"I develop a wide variety of signal processing algorithms with key applications for machine learning," he explains. "The algorithms look at and evaluate data. Then they try to identify its important elements and make decisions the way a human being would," he explains.

At the same time, as hip-hop artist SoulStice, Llorens is a composer, producer and performer whose work has been featured in movies and television. He says that there is a lot of similarity between his two careers. "Both involve acoustics and signal processing. A lot of the software that I use on a spectral analysis for acoustic data here is the same as what I use to mix down my songs."

At JHUAPL, his work is about automation. "By looking at specific physical measurements about a person, for example, gender, weight, body mass index and so forth, we may be able to predict whether the person has, or is at a greater risk for, diabetes," he explains. "Automation can save precious time and money, since it may negate the need for more expensive screening." The technology is also applied to military applications like passive sonar automation projects for the U.S. Navy. "A ground sensor might be catching acoustics to detect seismic activity of vehicles going by in some clandestine location. Measuring the activity generated by different vehicles tells us whether we have a military vehicle going by as opposed to some other type.

"It also has applications for homeland security," he continues. "We can automate screening for things like radioactive materials coming into a checkpoint. When they pass a sensor, an algorithm runs and decides if the material is suspicious. This is better than having someone stand there and go through everyone's bags.

"The algorithm doesn't care what the environment is," he explains. "It only knows features. We take the same algorithm that we use for one client and apply it to another."

Llorens grew up in University Park, IL with two passions, music and science. He got his 2001 BS in computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and went on to a 2003 MS in electrical engineering with a focus on signal processing, supported by a GEM fellowship. While completing his masters, he interned at JHUAPL before joining full time after graduation.

"One summer I worked in the space department helping to code the ground telemetry system for some APL satellite missions. The next summer, I worked in what was then called the National Security Department, now called Force Projection. They hired me full time after that.

"Now I get to explore different areas of physical phenomenology, whether they involve DNA, underwater acoustics or other things."

Doing everything he loves
Sometimes his music and engineering careers converge. "In 2011, I published a paper on machine learning at the International Conference for Acoustic Speech and Signal Processing," Llorens remembers. "I attended the conference in Prague, presented my research and then immediately left for a couple of musical city tours there and in the south of France."

He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (New York, NY). He also belongs to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (Santa Monica, CA). Llorens represents APL on the Johns Hopkins diversity leadership council, which includes students, faculty and staff from across the university. "We're a think tank for the university on matters related to diversity and inclusion," he explains.

"After ten years at APL, I'm kind of early in my career compared to some others," says Llorens. "When I was in college, I was told I would have to choose someday between being an engineer and being a musician. But I'm stubborn. After some soul searching, I still want to pursue both with as much fervor as I can muster."

Michele Slaughter-Conteh does troubleshooting and training at CNA
Teaching, taxes, transportation and technology are all part of the career of Michele Slaughter-Conteh, a user computing administrator II at CNA (Alexandria, VA), a nonprofit organization providing research and analyses.

CNA's Center for Naval Analyses is a federally funded research and development center for the Navy and Marine Corps. Its Institute for Public Research provides research and analysis services to government agencies and non-commercial clients. Slaughter-Conteh supports both areas.

"I provide large-scope troubleshooting on corporate infrastructure including desktops, laptops and servers. I also provide training and documentation support to corporate users. And I manage my own small to medium-scope projects. Most recently, I've been involved in the beta testing for our deployment of Windows 7."

She joined CNA in 2007 as a helpdesk professional. Today, she is the person notified when the helpdesk can't resolve something on a first-call basis. "For example," she says, "I manage a server for our data backup. If the backup utility isn't working, the helpdesk generates a ticket that tells me to investigate. If I can't resolve it, I can escalate the ticket to the software vendor who will walk me through the solution."

Slaughter-Conteh works with a team of six men. "We all work together in the same role, but one of us may have more expertise than another in a particular area," she says. Her team reports to the manager of user computing, who in turn reports to the company's CIO.

Cosmetology and other detours
As a high school student in Woodbridge, VA, she did very well in math, science and history, but she wanted to be a hair stylist and took courses in cosmetology for two years. "My parents couldn't understand my interest in hair," she smiles. "My mom said that I needed something to fall back on, so I took accounting, business and computer courses."

After graduating from high school in 1994, "life experiences" delayed her educational plans. She was hired by the Alexandria City Public Schools as a library media specialist, just as computers were being introduced to the schools. "I was one of the few people who knew anything about computers," she says. "The librarian had been there for more than thirty years and was afraid to touch them. I said, 'Computers? I can do this.'" She was even called on to be a substitute teacher from time to time.

In 1999 she joined Online Resources (McLean, VA), an online banking and bill payment company. Slaughter-Conteh did helpdesk tech support, and later became a team lead managing a dozen employees. She earned an associates degree in computer information systems from Strayer University, also in 1999.

In 2003, she was laid off. She spent a few months as a helpdesk analyst at tax software provider Intuit (Fredericksburg, VA) before coming to Independence Air (Dulles, VA) in 2004. "It was part of United Airlines, and then Delta, before it became Independence Air. I was a Network Operations Controller (NOC) for a year before becoming a junior support engineer. The junior support role allowed me to be mobile and interact with people. I'm a people person."

Independence Air went bankrupt in 2006, so Slaughter-Conteh spent almost a year at IntePros Consulting (Plymouth Meeting, PA). Later that year, she became a network administrator for General Dynamics, which at the time was working on a contract with the U.S. Coast Guard.

She had applied to CNA several months earlier and joined them when they called back in 2007. In 2008, she earned her bachelors degree in computer networking with a minor in business administration, again at Strayer.

Slaughter-Conteh has found her niche. "At CNA, my strong suit is educating and training," she believes. "I interact with a lot of employees and I'm told that I'm great at it. In the future, I want to do more in training and documentation."

Janet Diaz-Fournier works on unmanned aircraft sensor systems for Raytheon
As a kid, Janet Diaz-Fournier always loved science, and watched the Discovery Channel and science-oriented shows. Now Diaz-Fournier is a senior systems engineer II at Raytheon Company's Space & Airborne Systems (SAS) headquarters in El Segundo, CA.

She works with the sensor system for Global Hawk, a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system designed to provide high-resolution imagery of large geographic areas.

While most people think of unmanned aircraft in military terms, Diaz-Fournier points out that there are other applications. "These aircraft were used during the recent disasters in Japan and Haiti to assess damage and determine where to send aid," she notes.

At SAS, her responsibilities are twofold. "I do lab work," she explains. "If a sensor fails, we have to duplicate the problem, troubleshoot and repair it. I'm also a field support representative. I go to international ground control locations to offer customer support. It's great because I get to see how Navy and Air Force end users handle the product."

Diaz-Fournier joined Raytheon in 2004 to work on circuit case analyses. "We experimented putting the circuits under heavy stress to see how long it would take them to age and ultimately fail. This is important because our equipment is used in outer space. If something goes wrong with a satellite, you can't readily fix it. Our parts have to be in perfect condition, reliable and robust."

Dad and Raytheon were key motivators
Diaz-Fournier is from Puerto Rico, and her father is an engineer. "My father always supported me," she says. "He brought home a computer in the early eighties, which was very rare in Puerto Rico. I grew up exposed to lots of technology and it really appealed to me."

She graduated magna cum laude in 2004 from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, with a bachelors in electronics and control systems. She met Raytheon representatives at a job fair. "The questions they asked me showed that they liked what I had done in college," Diaz-Fournier remembers. "I felt comfortable and liked the friendly environment of the company. I also liked being able to work in California."

She gives her company high marks on diversity. "Raytheon is open to diversity. Seeing the number of women engineers here gave me the confidence to get past any concerns about stereotypes in this industry." Diaz-Fournier belongs to Raytheon's Young Employees Success Network (YESNet), assisting early career employees in building stronger connections.

Her immediate goal is to broaden her technical background. "We work in so many areas, and I want to have a better understanding of the technology we offer," she explains. "Long term, I would like to move into a team lead, project management position."

Determination brings success to Delilah Nuñez at Aerospace Corporation
"When I have to do something, I put everything I have into it," says Delilah Nuñez, a manager at Aerospace Corporation (El Segundo, CA). She manages the systems, software and tools section of the software systems analysis group.

"My background is computer engineering and most of my work experience has been in software and systems engineering, but I also have database and knowledge management expertise," she says.

"Our section supports the whole software lifecycle," explains Nuñez, "from requirements to production. We test software and recommend design adjustments." Aerospace supports government contracts, ensuring success on space missions.

Ten engineers report directly to her with varying levels of expertise in hardware and software engineering. "I mentor them, handle their evaluations and offer assistance when needed," Nuñez explains. "I think they would tell you that I communicate well with all of them but, since everyone has their own work style, I do the best I can to be flexible and adjust."

Nuñez joined Aerospace full-time in 1994 after interning for a year. She was hired as an associate member of technical staff doing software development and coding. She moved up to technical staff member and then senior member, providing software and database engineering support. By 2003, Nuñez was an engineering specialist and project leader supporting the internal deployment of knowledge base tools within Aerospace. "Now I oversee other people who write code. My role has changed but the knowledge of what I used to do still comes into play."

All the right stuff
Nuñez's parents are from Mexico but she was born in Los Angeles. "My parents valued a good education," she remembers. "I am the first person in my family to go to college."

She harbored a fascination with space exploration. "I wanted to do something that involved space. Computers and software engineering seemed to do that."

In 1994, Nuñez graduated with a BS in computer engineering from California State University-Long Beach. She recalls often being the only woman in her undergraduate classes, saying, "That just made me work that much harder.

"In the end, about half of my class dropped out but I stayed with it. I'm very gratified with the outcome because I know I earned that myself." While in school, Nuñez was a member of both the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) and SHPE. "It meant a lot to be in those groups," she explains. "A lot of us were dealing with cultural aspects since our families were sacrificing so much to put us through college."

After she had been at Aerospace for a few years, she earned her MBA with a specialization in Information Systems, also from Cal State, in 2000. "I didn't know if I wanted to be a manager but if I was, I wanted to be a good one," says Nuñez.

"I went for the MBA because I wanted to be well balanced. The good technical people get promoted to managerial positions, but they're engineers and sometimes they don't understand the business aspects and they may struggle with the people side because they're not comfortable with it."

She's happy to see more women coming into the engineering workforce. Nuñez is often asked to return to Cal State to speak to students. She supports student chapters of MAES and SHPE, speaking at events, providing career counseling, and conducting mock interviews. She has also represented Aerospace for the last four years at the annual Latino Career Fair and Expo held in Los Angeles.

Nuñez is undecided about her future. Aerospace offers both technical and managerial career tracks. "If I go down the technical path, I can still do what I do as a project leader and work with the team. As you progress higher through management, though, you have less interaction with the staff. Soon I'll have to decide.


Check website for current listings.

Company and location Business area
The Aerospace Corporation (Los Angeles, CA)
National security, civil and commercial space programs
BAE Systems, Inc (Arlington, VA)
Global defense, aerospace and security
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp
(Boulder, CO) www.ballaerospace.com
Technology for defense and civilian government agencies, and commercial customers
Booz Allen Hamilton (McLean, VA)
Strategy and technology consulting services
CAE USA (Tampa, FL)
Modeling, simulation and training for civil aviation and defense
CNA (Alexandria, VA)
Not-for-profit research and analysis
DRS Technologies (Parsippany, NJ)
Defense technology solutions and services
General Dynamics Electric Boat (Groton, CT)
Design, construction and lifecycle support of submarines for the US Navy
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, MD) www.jhuapl.edu Not-for-profit engineering, research, and development
ManTech International Corporation
(Fairfax, VA) www.mantech.com
Technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs
Overwatch, Textron Systems (Austin, TX)
Geospatial analysis and integrated intelligence software solutions and services for the DoD, national agencies and civilian organizations
Raytheon Company (Waltham, MA)
Technology and innovation in defense, homeland security and other government markets
Systems Planning & Analysis (Alexandria, VA)
Integration of technical, operational, programmatic, policy and business aspects of national security issues
ViaSat Inc (Carlsbad, CA)
Satellite and other digital communication systems and services

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Defense Intelligence Agency
Office of Naval Research Hess
DRS Technologies Intel
NSA Lockheed Martin
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Westinghouse
Sandia National Labs
DSS Fannie Mae
Union Pacific National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Johns Hopkins APL Philadelphia Gas Works
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission


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