March 10, 2008Her job: Senior MTS, The Aerospace Corporation
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I currently work in the Satellite Bus Group of the Systems Engineering and Operations Directorate supporting Military Satellite Communication systems at The Aerospace Corporation.
Why did you choose engineering?
As a child I was always interested in finding out how things worked. I can recall my twin sister and I taking apart televisions and radios to investigate their internal circuit boards. I quickly became the VCR and cable repair person in my family. I also enjoyed playing with remote controlled cars and airplanes.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math from Florida State University, and a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Computer Engineering also from Florida State University.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I have participated as a detailed designer supporting a number of programs such as AEHF, SBIRS, DMSP and DSCS. I have designed a Fine Frequency Controller ASIC and Precision Frequency Encoder ASIC using CAD tools like SPW, NCsim, and Modelsim. I have assisted with the initial development and testing of a pulse detection time of arrival system, as well as evaluated the system design and analysis of an EELV program. Most recently I was the Principal Investigator and Project leader for the development of a Two Terminal Laser Communication Test Bed, and a DSCS III flight simulator re-hosting effort.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I enjoy being exposed to new and interesting technologies and being able to share my experiences with young people.
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
I am the proudest when I am able to inspire a young person in the fields of engineering, science and math. The moment when you can tell that they are excited about learning and really understand the material is the most rewarding feeling. I am also proud of the commendation letters I have received from my government customers such as the National Reconnaissance Office and executive management at The Aerospace Corporation.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
While in college I was a member of the Varsity Track team, worked part-time and took a number of challenging courses. I learned the importance of time management and the benefits of study groups. With the support of my family I was able to go on to complete my Master's Degree.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am the youngest of six children. My twin sister Dr. Terri Norton is also an engineer. She currently works as an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
I hope to see a 20% increase in attendance at my Saturday Science Academy in the next two years. The A-MAN Inc. Saturday Science Academy (SSA) is designed to stimulate interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields and to encourage the career paths of secondary school students who have been traditionally underrepresented in these areas. One of my long term goals is to see some of my elementary and middle students graduate with degrees in Engineering.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My twin sister is my source of inspiration. To see the accomplishments she has been able to make academically, and the impact she has made internationally has been a driving force for me to continue to achieve. I also strive to live a life that is pleasing to God because I know I would not be where I am without him.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
If you are a creative person that is able to think beyond natural science then engineering is for you. Engineers impact everything in society from transportation, to digital electronics, to eco-friendly clothing. Engineering is no longer just a profession for men but for anyone that is ready for a challenge. The opportunities are endless.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
Outside of work I am very active in my church Soldiers of Jesus Messiah. I am the Program Director and lead instructor in the A-MAN Saturday Science Academy; I am a member of the Society of Woman Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers; I also enjoy all types of sports.