Growing up, I absolutely loved solving puzzles and finding creative ways to solve problems. I also had great teachers in high school and middle school that made math and science fun and engaging. When I was going into college, I knew I wanted to study engineering, but I didn’t know which specialty.
When I got to the University of Central Florida (UCF) for my bachelor’s degree, I majored in mechanical engineering, but I wanted to see what my other options were. I changed my major multiple times, cycling through the different types of engineering. I thought I had settled on environmental engineering until I enrolled in an introduction to industrial engineering class as an elective. From the first day of that class, I knew that that was exactly what I wanted to get my degree in. I enjoyed industrial engineering because it is a mix of engineering disciplines and business principles. We explored the foundation of engineering as well as how businesses develop, improve, and sustain growth.
At UCF, I participated in a college work-experience program, and interned at Lockheed Martin in their Lean Six Sigma department. Lean is about eliminating waste in processes to improve efficiency, and Six Sigma refers to the statistical approach of reducing process variability to six sigmas (standard deviations) to improve overall quality. When I started to learn more about Lean Six Sigma, I became very passionate about process improvement. Without that internship, I think my career would have taken a very different trajectory.
In college, I was in SWE and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers). I went to conferences for both organizations and I met a lot of great people. I still attend the SWE conferences; it’s a great way to catch up with friends from college and meet new people.
I’m currently a Systems Engineering Manager at Northrop Grumman in the Strategic Space Systems division as part of the Space Process Excellence group. I’m leading a project to develop an interactive process model for improved user comprehension and experience. This means that new employees can go to an internal website and click through a visual representation of our processes instead of having to read through several pages of process documents. This tool will make process training more interactive and interesting, while compiling all of the information they need to perform an activity in one place. I believe it’s revolutionary and can change not just the way our division does business, but as it grows, the way Northrop Grumman as a whole does business.
Systems engineering utilizes the same principles that I learned in industrial engineering, like improving processes and making systems work together to develop a successful product. My favorite part of my job is learning about the different engineering groups and how they do what they do. As I’m piecing together the various engineering processes, whether it’s engineering a chip or engineering a payload, I’m able to grasp a more in-depth understanding of all of the really amazing things that Northrop Grumman does.
To girls who might be interested in engineering, I would say to go for it! I believe all types of engineering serve as a solid foundation for anything that you want to do in life. It requires discipline, and it’s definitely challenging. If you put in the effort and push through it, you’ll realize there’s nothing that you can’t do. For those girls specifically interested in industrial engineering, I believe it provides a lot of flexibility for your career, whether in engineering, business, or even entrepreneurship! Even if you’re not entirely sure what you want to do, what you learn as an industrial engineering student will translate seamlessly to any industry.