Nicolette Yovanof

Nicolette Yovanof

Engingeering Manager
The Boeing Company
Long Beach, CA, United States
Nicolette Yovanof
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Nicolette Yovanof is the manager of the Advanced Structural Analysis & Tools group in Boeing Research & Technology, Structures Technology. She began working with The Boeing Company in 2002 as a summer intern in Seattle, WA for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, 737 Post Production Group. She then transferred to Phantom Works in Huntington Beach, CA in 2003 for a second summer internship in Durability and Damage Tolerance. Nicolette joined the company full time in 2004 with the Phantom Works (now BR&T), Advanced Structural Analysis and Tools group. During her time at Boeing, she has supported many programs including the Blended-Wing Body, 787 Integration, C-17, Orion TPS, Hypersonic Analysis, and additional R&D projects. Nicolette received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering, with a minor in engineering mechanics, from The Pennsylvania State University in 2004. She also received a Master of Science degree in systems architecture and engineering from the University of Southern California in 2007. Outside of her work activities, Nicolette is currently the National Council advisor for the Phi Sigma Rho National Sorority for women in engineering and engineering technology after serving as President and Vice President of Programming. She also works as a volunteer for the Society of Women Engineers in Orange County as a co-coordinator of the Girl Scouts outreach. Her hobbies include swimming, travel, and yoga and she is currently in pursuit of a private pilot's license.
B.S. Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2004 M.S. Systems Architecture & Engineering, University of Southern California, 2007
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Nicolette Yovanof

Hi Srijani, I think that aerospace would give you a more broad look at things, but it does depend on if you're more interested in space versus aeronautics.  NASA does work in both areas.  Additionally, NASA hires engineers across all engineering majors, so you could also study Mechanical Engineering and focus on aerospace or pursue a graduate degree in a more specific field.  The best path in my opinion though is to study what you are most interested in because you will enjoy it more!  Good luck!

Hi Cynthia, I think that taking any pre-calculus and robotics classes that are available to you would be great preparation for college!  Any math, physics, science/engineering courses at your school would be a great way to get some experience and exposure to the field.  Really though, you will get a lot of answers because there is no wrong way to prepare as long as you are doing something you enjoy and learning about math/science/engineering.  As far as activities, I would definitely get involved in anything that gives you practice in math/science or exposure to industry, as well as anything that gives you an opportunity to communicate/present as that will give you great preparation and confidence in future communication.  Good luck!

Hi Sneha, this is very dependent on the company, the division, but mostly the specific program and position.  There are a lot of defense and space programs that do require clearance, but some do not and most commercial aircraft positions do not require clearance.  You will have to check the specific position that you are applying for to determine if you meet the criteria, but they exist in most companies.  Whether or not you want to obtain a PhD would be a separate decision, the PhD might not necessarily guarantee that you would qualify for a position that requires clearance.  If you are interested in getting more depth in the field before working in industry, then the PhD would definitely be an option.  Don't give up, the jobs are out there!  Good luck!

Hi Mike, thank you for your question! Aerospace is a very cyclical industry where things can change based on the economy and defense market very easily.  So while there are downturns, they have historically bounced back.  Advancing technology and capability in aerospace in a variety of ways always has opportunities.  What is important is that you work hard and do your best and really enjoy the work that you do.  If aerospace is where your interest lie, I would definitely encourage you to study it in college! A B.S. will get give you many opportunities for a job building and designing aircraft for a good company at a good salary.  Whether or not you want to stop there may depend on your specific interests, the company that you work for, and the area in aerospace that you want to get into.  I would encourage you to explore internships and job fairs while you are in college to find out more about the specific needs the companies have and how they align with your interests.  Also, make sure to find out if the companies that you are interested in have programs where they can pay for advanced degrees if you want to work it out that way.  Good luck!

Hi Mya! I personally think that the best way to find the right part is to try different things out.  I picked an area that interested me the most in school and worked to get an internship in that field.  It turns out that I was lucky and I really did enjoy it.  And in the meantime, I've been able to experience different aspects of it that I do like and some that I don't like, so you will continue to learn in your career what works best for you.  If you can't get an internship at this time, I recommend getting other hands on experiences through volunteering, engineering organizations, clubs, and continued education.  My biggest advice about finding a career goes along with this - don't be afraid to try new things and maybe get out of your comfort zone.  There are a lot of opportunities out there, so try them out and see if they're a good fit.  Also, find a job that you keep learning at because that will make it interesting.  
If you're currently looking for a job, network whenever you can.  Get involved in aerospace organizations and clubs, go to career fairs, attend presentations, and get to know people and opportunities.   A lot of jobs are also posted online now, so familiarize yourself with the online processes and tips for making sure you stand out electronically!  Good luck!

Hi Yarra, thanks for the question! I'm excited to hear about your interest in how planes work and engineering and I do not think that you should give up your dream because you are currently struggling in math and physics. Math and physics are a base to engineering, so you will have to work hard to make it happen, but that does not mean you cannot do it. What is really important is that you find something you love and the interest in how things work is a key aspect of engineering. I personally struggled through some of my core classes, but I excelled in and loved my major classes and I know others who felt the same. With hard work and extra focus, you may find that you will come to understand these tough subjects better in your own time. You may have to spend extra focus on working hard in these areas, asking for help, finding tutors, and the right people to help you get through your classes. Find a support group of friends, women engineers, and people at school that can help you understand and work hard on those classes. Asking for help is a good thing when you have trouble with a class and being able to do so will benefit you at work someday too. So what I am really saying is that you can definitely still excel as an engineer if these are not your best subjects, but you will need support and to put in a lot of hard work! But in the end, if you can do something that you enjoy, it will be worth it! Good luck! Nikki

Hi Shammy, I'm happy to give you my thoughts on getting an internship and I'm so glad to hear that you're interested in doing one. I agree with you that hands on experience is a strong point when looking for a full time job. There are two key recommendations I would make. The first is for online applications - make sure that you tailor your resume for each job that you're applying for highlighting skills that match the position. You want to identify what is really critical and in the job posting and make sure that your resume highlights the skills you have that address that so that you don't get filtered out. An online resume can be longer than an in person one, so use it to your advantage. Second, make sure that you're personally getting out there to meet recruiters and companies at events like career fairs and workshops. A lot of companies do recruiting through organization and school career fairs and that is a great way to get some direct feedback and meet people in person. Things like the Society of Women Engineers conference, diversity events, and other things that your schools may offer. And if you have ways to get involved in projects, research, other university work make sure to do that in the meantime! Good luck with your internship search!

Hi Andi, I studied in Aerospace Engineering and now work in industry. I do mostly research and development work, but on a variety of aircraft and spacecraft. I had the same kind of question when I first decided what to study so I'm happy to give you my perspective! I currently work with people of all kinds of majors - civil, mechanical, and aerospace. There are a lot of similarities in those areas when it comes to aerospace work. You would be able to find a place in the industry regardless of major you do when you learn the engineering behind it. Mechanical Engineering tends to give you a broad perspective of engineering and gives you opportunities in many areas - aerospace, cars, construction, etc. Some people think that Aerospace can be limiting, but like mechanical there is application of the major in other areas too. What is most important is getting a good foundation in the engineering background. A major in mechanical with a minor or emphasis in aerospace would definitely work and I would recommend it to give you some exposure to hands on aerospace type of work and background for your first job. If that's not an option, some schools have clubs and hands on programs that all majors can join to participate in projects and lessons in the industry their interested in, so I would definitely take advantage of that. Internships and summer programs are another good way to give yourself exposure to the industry. It is most important to find something that you like in a good program. If you already know you want to work in aerospace, going into that major would give you the opportunities to start studying right away in the area that you enjoy. You may find that you enjoy your classes more when they relate structures or aerodynamics problems to a shuttle vehicle rather than a car. But if you found good a university or a program that you like that does not offer it or only has the minor/emphasis, you can still be successful working in aerospace. Good luck! Nikki