Her job: Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am currently a Systems Engineer working for Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore. Systems Engineers are responsible for the design of a system, like an airplane and making sure all the parts/pieces of the system function correctly. I currently work with the requirements of different systems which let you know how a system is going to function, in other words, what the system is supposed to do. I also go to a lot of meetings to have design discussions with engineers from different fields and obtain status of how the design is coming along. I am the one responsible for presenting technical design material to the customer. During the design cycle, the customers usually expect us to have reviews of the design and I am also responsible for this piece.
Why did you choose engineering?
I chose engineering because it was career that offered job stability and it also allowed me to work on new technology.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I started my college years in a 2 year institution at Montgomery College, Rockville Campus and graduated in May of 2003 with an Associate of Science. I then transfer to the University of Maryland College Park Campus and graduated in may of 2005 with a Bachelors of Science in Elelctrical Engineering. I am currently pursuing my masters of science in Systems Engineering at the John Hopkins University and plan to graduate in December of 2009.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
Meetings, presenting in public, networking, learning new technology and their technicallity, requirements, and fun activities. I am the chair for an Employee Resource Group at my work called "Adelante", which is spanish means moving forward. This group is there to address concerns from the employees and expose them to different activities in the areas of professional development, networking, recruiting, outreach, membership and communications. As part of my work I also plan different cultural events and events involving diversity. I support most of the outreach events held by my company and usually get invited to outreach events to talk to students k-12 and undergraduate about engineering and the importance of going to college.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
What I like best about being an engineer is the fact that you can make designs that are going to be part of saving the lives of millions of people. I also like the fact that when I design a product, I know that I put all my effort in designing it and after seeing the final result of my work, it is very rewarding to know I made it or had to do with making it.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
I think one of the challenges that I met while going to school was the fact that when I started I was knew to the language which put a limitation on how much I could understand. Throughout the years, I have become fluent in the language and I can now think back and think about those times when I could not speak english.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am originally from the Dominican Republic, which is located in the caribbean islands. I emigrated to United States in the fall of 1999 to come here and obtain a degree from an good engineering school. I am the second child of 4 kids and the only girl in my family. My mom and dad recently emigrated to the United States to come and keep me company. My 3 brothers are back in the Dominican Republic with their family. I have a nephew and soon will have a niece which I am very excited for.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My 1-2 year goals is to become more proficient at what I do and learn as much as I can from my peers and co-workers. the path for learning is never ending so I have this as my long term goal as well. Another one of my long term goal is to follow a technical path in the Systems Engineering world and teach others what I know. I like working with college and K-12 students and teaching them about engineering, so another one of my goal is to always give back to the community and teach others of my experience in the engineering field.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
I can say that my parents had a great influence on the choices I have made life. They have always instilled in me the drive to do my best at everything I did and to never give up, even in the hardest situations. They thought me to be patient and that life always has great things to be thankful for and we should always thanks God for every day in our lives.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
I would advise you to follow your intuition and to never give up, even in really difficult situations. I want you to know that life is only what you make of it and that there are endless opportunities waiting for you, you just have to be willing to take on the challenge and make a difference. Always be positive and never let anyone tell you that you cannot succeed. Human beings set their own destiny and every decision you make will have consequences, so think before you act! Another advice I will give is to take advantage of engineering programs that are targeted at helping young girls get more involved in engineering. We need more women engineers out there to fill in the gap and be CEOs of big companies.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
One thing that I do outside of work and that I always wanted to do is Ballroom dancing. I always wanted to be dancer, even before I found out that I wanted to be an engineer. My father always used to tell me that dancing was something that I could always do even if I chose a different career path. I am part of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Formation Team where I participate in dancing competitions individually and as part of the team. I think everyone should have a passion for something outside of work and be able to spend time on it.