Roberta Banaszak- Gleiter

Roberta Banaszak- Gleiter

Title
Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer
Organization
The Aerospace Corporation
Location
CA
Roberta Banaszak- Gleiter
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Biography

I have been at The Aerospace Corporation for eighteen years and am currently a project manager working on the design and development of the Space Based Infrared Satellite System. My responsibilities include the software that operates and navigates the satellite. It is an exhilarating and challenging profession. Aerospace Corporation is a "think tank" for Air Force satellite systems and I am part of a team that provides space systems architecture and engineering services. I went into engineering at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) because I enjoyed problem-solving and also excelled at math, chemistry and the other sciences while at an "all girl" high school. During that era, women engineering students were not accepted as peers in the universities. I was fortunate becasue my wonderful parents gave me a true understanding of who I was and what I could accomplish. I persisted and graduated in the top 10% of my class! After graduating from Purdue with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, I opted to marry (John), and raise a family (daughter, Alexis, and two sons, Chris and Nick) instead of entering the work force. When I decided to re-enter the engineering work force, I looked for guidance. A National Science Foundation program for re-entrant women engineers provided a series of computer science and engineering courses and the Society of Women Engineers provided a support network and vital information that enabled me to get where I am today. I now hold a M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California and am a senior level certified Hazardous Materials Manager. What I like most about my engineering career is the variety of exciting challenges that appear unexpectedly. One of my first challenges was being the technical liaison with NASA for developing a special "space suit" that was to protect propellant handlers on the satellite launch sites from life-threatening chemicals. Besides worrying about the design of the back packs that provide the wearers with air, I also became a guinea pig for modeling and demonstrating the self-contained suit. Another memorable challenge was managing some of the Department of Defense experiments that were flown on the Space Shuttle. Through this, and various safety related work assignments, I became part of a Shuttle "landing team" at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert in California. The magnitude of the team's importance really impressed me when I was told that our assigned cars had huge numbers painted on their tops. This was done so that if we were stuck in traffic with the hoards of tourists arriving to watch the Shuttle landing, NASA could find us and pluck us up into helicopters for delivery on the Shuttle landing strip to be available for our critical assignments. The accomplishment of which I am most proud is being the National President of the Society of Women Engineers, also known as SWE. Despite the advances that have been made since I began my engineering education, women engineers, in some instances, still are not considered equal to men. The Society of Women Engineers actively tries to close this perceived gap. It is a thrill to be leading a vibrant, highly-respected professional organization of 16,000 members which also includes men. SWE men members are supportive of women engineers and SWE women members demonstrate that women are good engineers - make that VERY good engineers - with the natural talent and temperament to be successful. I am proud of the Society of Women Engineers because it affords its members the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the most intelligent, talented professional women in the country and it supports women engineering students in many ways including over $300,000 in scholarships annually. Engineering work is stimulating and exciting. An engineering education provides a capability to assess, analyze and solve problems. You never know what aspect of your engineering background will have to be applied, but you always know that your basic skills will be there for you. Useful URLs: The Aerospace Corporation http://www.aero.org/home.html The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) http://www.swe.org/