Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



October/November 2013

Diversity/Careers October/November 2013

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Diversity In Action

Defense and diversity are priorities
at L-3

This intell and security contractor seeks diverse and highly trained engineers in many disciplines. Defense industry experience or cybersecurity skills are a plus

L-3 Communications supplies a broad range of products and services, including command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, flight simulation and training, avionics, and training devices and services. Its customers are organizations like the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as commercial telecommunications and wireless companies. L-3 has more than fifty locations in the United States, plus operations in Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Korea, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

“We’re an engineering company and we have a need for almost every discipline of engineer there is, including electronic, systems, mechanical and software engineers,” says John Hill, corporate vice president of human resources.

Avionics and aircraft devices are where most of L-3’s mechanical engineers work. They perform a wide range of functions, from repairing aircraft to designing communication devices and cockpit display systems, says Hill. “L-3 produces state-of-the-art, high-tech devices, and it’s important for us that potential employees can think outside the box.”

Although experience in the military or the defense industry is not required, both are a distinct advantage, says Hill. “Many of our engineers must have security clearances, and those with prior experience with defense contractors are familiar with how to obtain and maintain clearances,” he explains. “We hire a fair number of retiring military personnel, and we have a significant outreach to veterans, disabled veterans and individuals with other disabilities. Some of our engineers have to travel overseas to remote locations, so it helps for potential employees to understand what it means to work in difficult situations, and military experience provides that.”

Diverse recruitment and outreach
L-3 still has more than 700 engineering openings, despite recent government budget cuts, Hill says. He expects hiring to remain at that level in the near future, but the longer-term outlook is less clear. “The defense industry is cyclical by nature, and certain L-3 divisions have been affected more than others by the current budget situation,” he says. “Cybersecurity is a business area showing great promise, so software engineers with backgrounds in cybersecurity are very important to us right now.”

The company participates in many career fairs and has built relationships with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the Society of Women Engineers. “Our business units across the country also contribute to our diversity activities,” says Hill. “For instance, our Washington, D.C. division hosts two women attending local technology events each year. The Salt Lake City division is active in the Utah Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement/Science Technology Engineering Program (MESA/STEP), which encourages technical education for ethnic minority and all female students. Our colleagues in Waco and Greenville, TX have special outreach activities with Hispanic engineering organizations.”

Most L-3 facilities have intern and co-op programs that cater to the local schools, according to Hill. Some offer company benefits to local students who are able to work twenty hours a week.

Balance, inclusion and opportunity
“We offer leave programs, compressed work programs, flexible schedules, flexible benefits, and assistance programs to help employees deal with the pressures of work while maintaining a home life,” says Hill. As part of the company’s compliance training program, L-3 employees receive training in modules that include ethics in business and diversity. L-3 also has a formal diversity and inclusion council that helps identify diversity initiatives and outreach programs, Hill says. The council is currently looking into the implementation of business resource groups that will support activities like mentoring, recruiting diverse talent and leadership development, and that align with L-3’s overall corporate business goals and objectives.

“Engineers who come to work at L-3 will use everything they learned in engineering school,” Hill says. “For us to remain competitive and innovative, we want to make sure everyone feels included and engaged. The world is changing fast, so our goal is to tailor our diversity and inclusion programs to reflect what’s going on in our industry and the cities we work in. We’ll continue to refine and adjust as we go forward.”


L3 Communications

Headquarters: New York, NY
Employees: 51,000
Revenues: $13.1 billion (2012)
Business: Command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; electronic systems; platform and logistics solutions; national security solutions

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