Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



February/March 2012

Diversity/Careers February/March 2012 Issue

Hispanics in government
Healthcare IT
Robotics careers
Disabled veterans
NACME symposium

MBEs & their clients
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

U.S. Coast Guard Civilian Chesapeake Energy
Intel Telephonics

Focus on diversity


Hispanics bring their cultural heritage to important government work

A dozen Hispanic men and women talk about their jobs in the military and other government agencies

"We're together in the same struggle. We all have the same mission to accomplish." – Joseph Vasquez, United States Air Force

'It is not just counting heads, but making heads count." That's how Capt Ken Barrett characterizes government efforts to attract and retain Hispanic employees. Barrett, an active-duty Navy officer, is deputy director of the office of diversity management and equal opportunity for the office of the undersecretary of defense, personnel and readiness.

"It's important that folks in the organization feel empowered to send their ideas up to leadership. It's important that the good ideas get incorporated so we can optimize how we do business."

And it's essential to know the audience. "Looking at the current census, demographics demand that we make changes. It's our priority to identify untapped markets and tap emerging ones, and to realize that what works in Southern California may not be the same as what works in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, New York and other places."

It's critical for the Department of Defense (DoD) to bring in people who are savvy in the STEM areas, Barrett adds. "We're looking for folks in engineering, IT and cybersecurity, and it's important for us to be in every market to be sure we get the best and the brightest."

DoD recruitment efforts begin with appearances at job fairs, workshops and events like the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC, run by Great Minds in STEM, www.greatmindsinstem.org) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE, www.shpe.org). The DoD has also developed a robust, sustained engagement with individuals, affinity groups and citizen action groups like the National Organization for Mexican American Rights, Inc (NOMAR, www.nomarinc.org); Mana (www.hermana.org), a national Latina organization; and the society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES, www.maes-natl.org).

Barrett points out that the government is competing with private companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, IBM and Raytheon. "They're looking for the same kinds of niche people that we are. We need to be in a position to show what we have to offer in order to attract that talent our way."

The reality, he says, "is not just being able to attract good people but to retain that workforce once they're here. We look at diversity as our strength: the full spectrum of traits and attributes as well as race and ethnicity. That's why it's a strategic imperative for us."

Here are some of the Hispanic men and women who have brought their technical talents and cultural heritage to important government work.

Captain Bryan Lopez of the U.S. Navy
The motto of the U.S. Navy is "A global force for good," notes Capt Bryan Lopez, executive officer of Space and Electronic Warfare System Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) headquartered in San Diego, CA. "When people think of the Navy, there's a tendency to focus on ships, aircraft and weapons. Today's Navy is much more than that. Today's Navy supports missions of the 'global force for good' variety: humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and more, all over the world."

SSC Pacific "provides support and training to the fleet commanders so they can carry out their missions," Lopez says. It's the Navy's premier research, development, test and evaluation lab for "information dominance," the modern equivalent of C4ISR. "We are the Navy's equivalent of a Fortune 500 R&D system center," Lopez explains. "We do R&D, testing, evaluation and fielding of modern information technology and electronic warfare systems for the fleet."

SSC Pacific is not a typical Navy command. Lopez says. "It operates like a civilian technology corporation. The workforce of almost 4,500 people is mostly civilians, with only about 250 in military uniform. Many of them have masters or PhD degrees in science or engineering. Our annual operating budget is $2.5 billion."

The uniformed personnel report directly to him. "I go out of my way to sit down with our sailors and listen to what they have to say. Some of our most junior sailors share innovative ideas that have the potential to change how we operate. Mentoring these future leaders is the most satisfying part of my job."

Lopez has been in the Navy for twenty-four years. The son and grandson of career Navy men, he was born in Maryland and lived in Washington, DC, California and Japan before returning to New Mexico and his family's roots to finish high school. He served as an enlisted sailor, specializing as a cryptologic technician before going on to the University of New Mexico on a Navy ROTC scholarship. He was intrigued by computer-related areas, but earned his BA in political science and was commissioned as an ensign in 1990.

In 1992 Lopez completed an MS in international relations from Troy State University (Troy, AL) and was designated a Navy cryptologist. Later he enrolled in an MSEE program at the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, CA), and in 1998 he finally got a degree in the field he'd been drawn to as an undergrad.

Lopez' road to SSC Pacific has been marked by a series of high-visibility assignments. One of them involved evacuating U.S. citizens and employees from U.S. embassies in the Albania non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in the Adriatic Sea and the Liberia NEO on the West African coast.

Immediately after 9/11 Lopez was selected to support joint airborne reconnaissance operations for Operation Enduring Freedom at U.S. Central Command. He also worked as their signals intelligence collection manager.

In 2004 he supported tsunami humanitarian/disaster relief efforts for Banda Aceh, Indonesia, then transferred to Colorado Springs, CO, serving on the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) staff. There he became chief of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the U.S. Northern Command staff. He attended the Joint Forces Staff College (Norfolk, VA) before assuming command of Navy information operations command San Diego, where he was made a captain.

In March 2012 Lopez will receive his executive MBA from the Naval Postgraduate School. He was recognized with a HENAAC Luminary award in 2011.

"I'm extremely proud of my Hispanic heritage and my part in the family's navy legacy. I hope to continue to serve both as a mentor and an example for those who come after me," he declares.

Dr Michael Colón of the Naval Research Lab
Growing up in New York City, Michael Colón qualified for the gifted program at PS 155 in Spanish Harlem. There he found an Apple II computer and it found him. "I became the resident expert on that Apple II," he remembers. "One of its games was my early exposure to artificial intelligence."

At Princeton University (Princeton, NJ) Colón started in mechanical and aerospace engineering, but courses in computer science and computer theory reawakened his original passion. He graduated with a bachelors in computer science in 1992, then spent a year working at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore, Piscataway, NJ, now Telcordia Technologies). He was building support systems for use by telephone customer service reps.

He went on to a 1994 MSCS from Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA), working on the Stanford Temporal Prover (STeP), designed for software verification.

Based on his work with STeP, Colón was invited to apply to the PhD program and completed a PhD in CS in 2003.

An advisor at Stanford recommended him for the Naval Research Laboratory (Washington, DC) and he's still there. He's currently in the IT division's center for high-assurance computer systems, researching applications of CS theory to Navy computer problems.

"It's important to extend the lifetime of existing systems or find low-cost ways to develop new systems rather than build everything from scratch," Colón notes. "One current project is to extend the operational life of radars on F/A-18 aircraft, which use legacy programming languages and support tools from the early 80s."

Another project came from the Navy's desire to use off-the-shelf hardware and software. "Buying commercially available products makes financial sense," Colón explains, "but these products may have bugs and vulnerabilities. We had to develop methods to analyze commercial off-the-shelf software, identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk."

Colón's projects include college recruiting. "We have an eye toward finding the most promising candidates of all types," he stresses. "There are so many minority candidates at engineering schools." Colón also volunteers his time inspiring a new generation of scientists and engineers. "Last year I helped start a math team at my daughter's school to enhance the math curriculum.

"I like what I do and I want to do more of it," Colón concludes. "I like high-risk high-impact research of relatively short duration. Focusing on applied research gives me a better sense that the work I do will ultimately pay off."

Lisandra Acevedo-Agostini of DLA Aviation
Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Aviation (Richmond, VA) supports more than 1,300 major weapon systems. It's the military's primary source for more than 1.3 million repair parts and operating supply items. Lisandra Acevedo-Agostini is an IT specialist and Microsoft-certified system administrator working in the agency's operations support branch.

"We make sure all the Windows servers are up and running," she says. "We see to it that all the servers are patched with the latest security updates. We manage print and file servers, share folders and user accounts." A typical day for Acevedo-Agostini also includes Web responsibilities, maintaining DLA's Internet and intranet pages.

She's been at DLA eight years, joining full time in 2004 after doing five internships with the agency, part of a program of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU, www.hacu.net). "I saw it as an opportunity to do something before graduating," she says. "I didn't want to graduate with no experience." She was one of DLA's first group of IT interns.

Acevedo-Agostini was born in Aguada, Puerto Rico. "Growing up, I knew I wanted to go to a good school, get a good job and come here to the U.S.," she remembers. "In high school computers were about the only thing that got my attention. I liked the concept of understanding how things work and the logic behind different programs and networks."

She went to the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, earning a BSCIS in 2002. She started work toward a graduate degree there but has not finished yet, concentrating instead on getting her IT certifications.

"When I first came to the U.S. it was difficult," she recalls. "It was complete culture shock. I didn't know anybody but from day one my co-workers were very nice and so willing to help."

Acevedo-Agostini participates in the government's Hispanic employment program, and she aspires to management. "I want to learn as much as I can and keep moving up," she says.

She also reaches out to Hispanic women and others who are in the same situation she was a few years ago. "I'm always available to anyone who needs my help or guidance," she says. "I always try to let people know there are opportunities out there and ways that you can get to where you want to go. Other people did that for me."

MSgt Carlos Sosa-Marquez of the U.S. Marine Corps
"I always wanted to be in the military," says U.S. Marine Corps Master Sergeant Carlos E. Sosa-Marquez. Last year he began work as senior aviation information systems liaison for development, fielding and lifecycle support of aviation information systems. He's stationed at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, MD.

"When I was in high school my counselor had issues with me wanting to go into the service. I had to get my Marine recruiter to talk to her. The training was tough but I knew I had made the right decision. The Marines challenge you both physically and mentally."

As requirements come from the fleet, systems are developed in keeping with Department of Defense regulations, Sosa-Marquez explains. "We have to stay with the current technology. One of my biggest jobs is to ensure that the systems are properly implemented following the certification and accreditation processes.

"We have Marines who maintain the servers and conduct the upgrades. If they have any questions they call us and we walk them through the process."

Sosa-Marquez spends a lot of his day talking with program managers and vendors, reviewing products and making sure USMC requirements are being fulfilled. "Communication is a key aspect of my job," he reports.

His USMC career has been built on success and the promotions that come with it; his current oversight responsibilities are familiar territory for him. In 1996, as a private, he began training as an aviation supply clerk, and became an aviation logistics computer operator. His first assignment was at the Marine aviation logistics squadron where he did data processing and managed the tape/backup library. He took on more training, became a Windows NT admin and was promoted to corporal.

In 1999 he was in Okinawa, Japan, assigned to the aviation logistics department and responsible for gathering aviation supply information for three Marine aircraft groups. During that tour he was promoted to sergeant.

In 2000 he attended the Aviation Logistics Tactical Information Systems school and in 2001 he served in the aviation IS department, working in data processing, maintenance, customer service, and as assistant to the department chief. He was promoted to staff sergeant during this tour, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

In 2005 Sosa-Marquez was transferred to the Marine Corps recruiter school in San Diego, CA. He served as a canvassing recruiter, was promoted to gunnery sergeant, then chosen to represent aviation logistics info management systems at the Marine Corps network ops and security center in Quantico, VA. He liaised with HQ and program managers for aviation logistics, maintenance and training systems, and also attended information assurance seminars and completed the security-plus level.

Sosa-Marquez is from Guatemala City, Guatemala, where "Opportunities were limited and we couldn't take anything for granted." His family came to the U.S. in 1992. He spoke very little English when he arrived, but his interest in computers helped him navigate the all-English environment of his high school.

In his junior year he enlisted in the USMC delayed entry program and went to Parris Island, SC for training when he graduated in 1996.

"The opportunities in this country are magnificent, and this was something I had to repay," he says.

Getting a college degree is his ultimate goal, and he's currently a part-time online student at Park University (Parkville, MO) studying MIS. "I'll have it in a couple more years," he says with pride.

Looking ahead, he wants to stay in government service. He'd like to work in a civilian IT role in the military because he thinks what the Marine Corps has done for him is great. "You come out of boot camp with an empty toolbox and your training is complemented as you move up the ranks. We're moving into more complex technology all the time.

"Equal opportunity in the Marines is outstanding but it's individual effort that gets you promoted. The bottom line is, hard work pays off."

Ray Letteer, USMC senior information assurance official, reports that "MSgt Sosa-Marquez epitomizes what it means to be first and foremost a Marine. His positive attitude and willingness to get things done was quickly evident when he started working on my cybersecurity certification and accreditation team, and he continues to exemplify all that's good about being a Marine."

Sosa-Marquez' personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal with four stars, and the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

Randy Reynolds of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA, Ft Belvoir, VA) produces critical geospatial intelligence: products in support of U.S. national security objectives and in case of natural disasters. Aeronautical, maritime and topographical geospatial and imagery intelligence products are an important element of decision-making for top national leaders.

Randy Reynolds serves on an NGA support team (NST) for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that operates national reconnaissance satellites. "I work with the NRO both as an NST member and as a mission manager for the operations directorate," Reynolds explains.

At various NRO and NGA forums dealing with current and future national reconnaissance programs, his knowledge of mission partners' personnel, organizations and priorities "helps ensure that the collaboration and cooperation pathways are smoothed as much as possible," he says.

An "Army brat" from El Paso, TX, Reynolds moved with his family back and forth from the U.S. to Germany. Eventually they settled near Fort Lewis in Tacoma, WA, where he was the first member of the family to go to college: first the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) and then Washington State University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He graduated in 1986 with a BS in physical science and a heavy emphasis on math and engineering.

In the Air Force he opted for imagery intelligence as his career field and spent six years as an imagery intell officer, including a tour in Washington, DC as an imagery analyst. "I spent lots of time working in bomb damage assessment during Desert Storm," he says.

When he left the Air Force in 1993 Reynolds decided to make his career in the intelligence community. The company that eventually became Lockheed Martin Management & Data Systems hired him, and he moved into a job providing direct service from the NRO to its military mission partners.

In 1996 Reynolds joined the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which became the NGA in 2003. He worked on future geospatial intelligence tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination, strategic planning and programs.

He went on to an MS in national security strategy at the National War College (Washington, DC). He selected the NRO NST for a three-year tour, then stepped into a program management role at NGA in 2007. In January 2011 the agency offered him the opportunity to refresh his imagery intelligence systems expertise by returning to the NRO NST in his current position.

Reynolds has been co-lead for the NGA's Hispanic Employee Program Council (HEPC) for the last year, after two years as deputy. HEPC focuses on career development and mentoring for Hispanic employees and the recruiting of qualified Hispanics. He's also liaison with the NRO Hispanic Advisory Council, which "has a robust diversity effort," he says.

"Awareness of the NGA as a career option is a good place to start," Reynolds reflects. "If you are a bright, creative professional this is a great place to be. We're on the cutting edge of exciting initiatives and we contribute to national security at the same time.

"I draw a lot of strength from my Hispanic heritage and in particular from my mother whose tireless work ethic and willingness to help other people has had a tremendous effect on me."

Joseph Vasquez of the Air Force
Joseph Vasquez works in the wing information assurance (IA) office of the U.S. Air Force at Tyndall AFB, FL. Cybersecurity, he says, "boils down to being mindful of how to secure information."

That's where Vasquez' office comes in. It's "the administrative side of IA, helping people understand the security and stability requirements of their information," he says. "I teach the information assurance officers, the people who are responsible for the IA of their own units, how to implement processes and recognize poor security practices, like why you shouldn't plug your iPod into a government-owned system," he explains with a smile.

"We get asked a lot of questions and we never get tired of answering them. We're conducting annual inspections, spot checking people's programs and working on a plan to get the printer/ copy/fax machines in compliance. My day is spent answering emails, updating documentation and working on plans for meeting the security standards that are in place."

Vasquez was born in Del Rio, TX and grew up in San Antonio, TX. "In high school I always found the STEM courses to be fun and very interesting," he recalls. "I had some awesome teachers who got me interested in computer science. By the time I was a junior I knew I wanted to be involved in the IT field."

Vasquez went to the University of Texas at San Antonio. But college was expensive and Vasquez was working three part-time jobs to keep himself in school. When he learned that Air Force ROTC programs could pay for education, he joined up while still in his freshman year. "In the Air Force I got to see communications applied in a real-world field setting," he says with appreciation.

In 2005 he joined the 89th communications squadron, headquartered at Andrews AFB, MD. He was assigned to SITFAA, the IT system of the American air forces.

"I was very lucky," he says. "When I began my assignment SITFAA was moving from traditional methods of communication to email and Web-based capabilities. As a senior airman I was doing presentations to colonels and captains teaching them how to use Skype."

While at Andrews in 2007 Vasquez was selected to work in the government network ops center (GNOC) that provides "office in the sky" capabilities to national leaders. "Anytime our leaders are in the air they can conduct business just as though they were in their offices," he explains. "It was a blast because everything was high priority." Vasquez was a shift supervisor in GNOC from 2007 to 2010 and while there, his AF specialty code (AFSC) was upgraded to Cyber Surety.

He spent 2010 in Korea at Kunsan AB, serving as the noncom in charge of configuration management in the network control center for the Eighth Communications Squadron. He returned to the U.S. early last year.

Vasquez is currently enrolled online at the University of Maryland, University College, taking classes in CS and computer and information systems. He hopes to have his degree next year.

He still has three years to go in his current enlistment and is not sure if he will re-enlist. "I'm enjoying school and what I'm doing here now," he says. "I would love to eventually develop a consulting firm that helps small businesses implement cybersecurity and information assurance practices. I think that would be really fun."

He's delighted with the opportunities offered by the Air Force. "The military is a level playing field. We're all on the same page and together in the same struggle. We all have the same mission to accomplish."

Joaquin Mosquera of the FAA
"I used to manage the infrastructure that supports the applications. Now I get to build the apps that run on the infrastructure," says Joaquin Mosquera, solutions delivery build-team manager in the air traffic organization (ATO) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, Washington, DC).

"It's a long title that means I'm the guy who manages building applications. My team builds them, another team is responsible for architecture and design and another team does the QA support," he explains. "We work collaboratively with a PM team that brings us all together."

At the direction of the FAA's CIO, the ATO is looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs by using cloud computing and other innovative technologies to focus less on infrastructure and more on cloud-based solution development.

Mosquera has been a government employee for twenty years. He started with the office of aeronautical charting and cartography (AC&C), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that provided aeronautical charts and products to the FAA.

In 2000, AC&C, and Mosquera with it, was transitioned into the FAA.

Mosquera was born in Spain, but his family came to the U.S. when he was eight years old. His high school days were spent in Boston, MA. He started school at Salem State College (Salem, MA) as an art major but switched to computer cartography; he graduated in 1990. "Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were starting to really come up as a field and I thought this would be a good career path with a lot of options like civil engineering and power companies."

He worked part-time for Ebasco Environmental (Santa Fe, NM), a GIS consulting firm, and later for AMCAD (Herndon, VA), a records management company, as a GIS analyst. In 1991 he joined NOAA.

In 1996 Mosquera completed an MS in IT management at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD). "It prepares me for the different audiences I have to work with and communicate to on a daily basis," he explains.

In 2010 Mosquera graduated from the partners program of ACT/IACT, an organization involved with program management solutions. "The General Services Administration (GSA) has a strong partnership with this program," he notes.

Mosquera has worked through a number of organizational changes within the ATO, and the FAA's shared-services area has been restructured. "Career-wise I'm hoping to move forward to a CIO position, either in the FAA or outside the agency," he says.

Robin Gonzalez of the EPA
At the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Robin Gonzalez is acting director for the office of information analysis and access in the office of environmental information. Gonzalez works at the agency's campus at Research Triangle Park near Raleigh, NC, and was director of the EPA's national computer center there for five years. The campus is managed jointly by the EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

"The national computer center is where the EPA gets most of its computing power in terms of telecom, servers and apps," Gonzalez explains. "We have more than 500 agency-based apps housed here and we maintain the network for the entire country. A lot of technology and information processing goes on here."

The office of environmental information includes three major groups. Besides Gonzalez' information analysis and access unit there's one that deals with process technology and one in information collection. The office has a staff of ninety-plus people, most based in Washington, DC, and works under the community right-to-know toxic release inventory national analysis program.

"Governments around the world, including ours, have laws to let citizens determine what's going on at that factory down the street," Gonzalez explains. This was the beginning of the community right-to-know act, "a cornerstone database for the EPA," says Gonzalez.

"The analysis is done after industry data related to chemicals emitted to air, water or land is collected. We pull it all together, analyze it and determine what types of chemicals are being released by what sectors of industry."

Finally, "We make that information publicly available, and we work closely with industry to make sure regulations are being complied with."

Gonzalez was born in Pittsburgh, PA to a father from Cuba and a mother from Alabama. The family moved to California where his father was an engineer for defense contractor TRW, and later they moved to Oregon and Washington state.

Gonzalez received a BS in IE from the University of Washington in 1982. He went to work for the Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle, WA and stayed for about four years. "We had original, basic IBM PCs, not networked, with a whole ten-megabyte hard drive," he recalls with a laugh.

In school Gonzalez had worked at the helpdesk in the information center, so one of his jobs with the Corps was to transition the workforce to the new technological revolution. "It sounds funny but there was a need for kids like me with engineering and cyber knowledge to help the mature engineers bridge the gap," Gonzalez says. He taught Lotus 123 and VisiCalc, early spreadsheet applications.

In 1988 a friend told him about an opening at the EPA and he's been there ever since. Today he's a career civil servant at the senior executive service level. A dozen people report to him including the deputy and associate office directors, communications specialists and three division directors.

Gonzalez is keeping his options open for the future. "The challenges facing the EPA in the area of information management are pretty critical," he explains. "To give the public easy access to our information we've been working with open.gov and data.gov. We're putting up lots of great data sets, geospatially enabled so folks can use the data in new and creative ways."

Jaime Esquivel of the U.S. Department of State
Jaime Esquivel is coming to the end of his sixth overseas assignment for the U.S. Department of State (Washington, DC). Since July 2011 Esquivel has been the information management officer at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. In twenty years with the State Department he's had similar IT-related assignments in Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago.

"In the foreign service, much like the military, we rotate assignments every few years," he says. "Islamabad is an assignment I bid on: I asked to come here and I was selected."

Esquivel's organization at the U.S. Embassy has two sections: the information program center (IPC) and the information systems center (ISC). The IPC is the backbone system of the operation that handles telegrams and formal correspondence with the department's Washington, DC HQ, U.S. embassies worldwide and other U.S. government agencies. The IPC also manages the embassy's classified network, telephone system, and emergency and evacuation radio networks. The ISC handles the embassy's unclassified computer network.

Esquivel's team oversees the IT and telecom ops at the embassy and three U.S. consulates in Pakistan. "We also liaise with Pakistani government officials and local IT service providers who supply services for the embassy and consulates," he notes.

Besides IT and telecom, Esquivel also heads up the diplomatic post office mail, diplomatic pouch operations and emergency evacuation radio systems for the U.S. facilities in Pakistan.

In all, Esquivel has seventy-plus men and women reporting to him. Twenty are U.S. citizens in the embassy and consulates; the rest are local employees.

Esquivel hails from Weslaco, a border town in southernmost Texas. "In my junior and senior years in high school I seriously began to consider the military," he says. He selected the Air Force, enlisted in 1979 while still in high school and went on active duty that August.

He was hoping to go into administrative management, but "They put me in a career field that was IT-related," he remembers. "It was one of the best moves I ever made.

"We had highly advanced teletypes, and when PCs came out we embraced them."

In 1991, after ten years in the USAF, his application to work in the Department of State was accepted and he found himself doing a lot of the same kind of work he does today.

"I've been involved in this field for my entire thirty-year career," he sums up. When his tour of duty in Pakistan ends this July he's going back to Washington for a two-year assignment as division chief for the enterprise operations division in the enterprise network management directorate of the Department of State's bureau of Information Resource Management.

"The enterprise operations division manages departments that work in network systems, including Internet-based activities with the embassies to support the applications and services that funnel back to Washington," he explains.

Esquivel is a family man with three sons. The family traveled with him to all his assignments except the current one.

Naomi Singer of the FBI
In 1979, Naomi Singer joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, Washington, DC). It's the only place she has ever worked. She started in Washington, DC, and moved on to the San Antonio, TX and Albuquerque, NM field offices. In 1985 she came back to HQ in Washington, DC, and moved to the IT side. "It was the first automation initiative that went across the FBI," she remembers. "We were installing computers, replacing typewriters with PCs. It was a radical change for some; we had people actually retiring because the switch to new technology was so overwhelming!"

Today Singer is a section chief at the FBI. Her primary mission: providing IT customer support services at home and abroad. "We manage our desktops and all changes implemented on them, making sure everything is in compliance with the agency's policies and procedures. We also provide career development for our tech personnel," she says.

As section chief she oversees groups that support operations across metro DC as well as international locations. Because of her international responsibilities Singer runs a 24/7 shop. "We ensure that the equipment is operational at all times."

Singer's group just completed a Next Generation Workspace upgrade program that standardized desktops across the enterprise. "Standardization makes it a lot easier for us to provide IT support," she explains.

She describes her role as a combination of leading, managing and mentoring. "I provide staff with guidance and provide the tools they need to ensure operational readiness and customer satisfaction. And I mentor employees to become our next leaders."

Singer was born in California, grew up in New Mexico and attended New Mexico Highlands University where she got a BA in social work in 1978. A chance meeting with a recruiter led her to apply to the FBI, and she was accepted for employment in Washington, DC.

She's active in programs that take advantage of her mentoring skills, including the Employee Assistance Program where she acts as a peer counselor.

"I've only been in this job for about a year," Singer says. "I want to spend the next years here doing all I can to improve the level of services we provide to our customers, and ensure that the staff has the tools they need to do their jobs. I like the challenges of this job, but eventually I'd like to go outside the boundaries of the IT world. One thing the FBI does well is provide opportunities with challenges!"

Luis Lugo is with the National Security Agency
Luis Lugo is an operations researcher at the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS, Fort Meade, MD). NSA/CSS leads the U.S. government in cryptology: both signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance (IA) products and services, and enables computer network operations. IA prevents adversaries from accessing sensitive national security information; SIGINT collects, processes and disseminates intelligence info from foreign signals. The agency also enables network warfare ops to defeat terrorists and their organizations at home and abroad.

"We use scientific methods to collect and analyze data, develop mathematical models and simulations of operations and compare alternative decisions," Lugo explains. "We help management solve operational problems."

His own work involves developing decision-support computer systems so network and architecture analysis customers can assess their collection or storage capacity.

Lugo's organization is staffed by thirty people on five teams. "My team is network, system and architecture analysis," Lugo explains. "Our interaction depends on the scope of the project we're working on. If the project is soliciting an architectural analysis only, my team will be in charge, but if the project is requesting support from our five areas of expertise, all teams interact together. My team and others will report to the chief level and to the executive council for modeling and simulation."

Lugo has been interested in the IT field since he first met Windows 95 almost twenty years ago. "I always admired people that bet on creativity and innovation and challenge the current technological boundaries and architectures," he says.

He was born in Puerto Rico and went to the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez where he completed a BS in accounting with a minor in math and finance in 2002. He spent five years working for pharmaceutical and financial firms before joining NSA. "I went to the NSA website and applied for several positions. After a series of interviews, security clearance, relocation and family support, in 2007 I was hired to work as a business consultant in the business organization. After two years there I moved to operations researcher in the enterprise ops research, modeling and simulation organization."

He's also action officer for the Hispanic/Latino employee resource group. "I support the leadership team and NSA initiatives that foster an inclusive work environment and enhance mission success," Lugo says. Outside the agency Lugo is a member of the American Society of Military Controllers, Toastmasters, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

One of his short-term goals is to go to the National Intelligence University (Washington, DC) for its MS in strategic intelligence program. "I want to take on a joint-duty assignment or an assignment within the agency's extended enterprise," he explains.

"That's one of the things I like about working at NSA: there are a lot of opportunities and options for your career," he says.


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