What is your role at Lockheed Martin?
Project Engineer/IPT Lead
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
I have always had a passion for solving problems and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when the problem is resolved. Being an engineer is all about providing practical solutions to difficult, real-world problems and naturally aligned with my personal passions. I was also fortunate to be exposed to engineering early in life as my father was a mechanical engineer and I grew up in a college town with a strong engineering program with numerous neighbors that were engineering professors. This early exposure to engineering and its alignment with my passion for problem solving led me to pursue a career in engineering.
What tips or advice would you offer students considering a career in engineering?
If you are interested in pursuing a career in engineering, you need to enjoy constantly learning. You can’t become too focused on any particular technology as it is constantly changing and you have to always account for and leverage the emerging technologies. I recommend focusing on understanding the process and techniques utilized to solve any math or science problem in school over the answer. Learning how to approach problems, apply logic, and leverage different techniques are the most important tools any engineer can have.
One of the challenges facing the engineering field is a lack of awareness for what engineering is, and what engineers do. What steps can Industry take to make engineering more relatable to the general public?
I run into this problem on a regular basis when people ask, “What do you actually do as an engineer?” It is easy to explain what I do as a project engineer on a large, government software development team but it makes me realize that people generally don’t understand what engineers do. Part of the problem is that engineers literally do everything. I have engineering friends that do everything from designing new medical equipment, to making toilet paper, to designing a soup production line, to developing a champion racecar for NASCAR, to building planes and satellites at Lockheed Martin. It is such a broad field that it is difficult to define. When I think about this breadth of capabilities, I realize that engineers literally make everything you use and make everything you previously used better. The industry needs to consider some simple branding that helps more people understand that engineering is about designing, producing, and improving products and systems that we use every day and that we do this through structured, team-oriented problem solving. This message should be conveyed through messages to middle and high school students as well as general advertising with simple examples that show engineers at work in these various industries.
This year’s National Engineering Week theme is “Celebrate Awesome.” What would you describe as the most “awesome” part of your job?
I have been lucky in my career as I get to build some pretty “awesome” systems working for Lockheed Martin. There are not many companies that build so many world-defining products. The most “awesome” part of my job has been the ability to see a system I helped build go-live and make a significant difference in the safety of our nation. I had the privilege of working on a system for the FBI to replace their existing fingerprint matching system. This system went live after a lot of hard work from our team and immediately resulted in catching criminals through fingerprint matches that the previous system would not have caught. As we continue to develop the next phase of the system, every month at the program review, we here success stories of the system we developed and how it continually helps the law enforcement community take criminals off of the street. There aren’t many more “awesome” moments than to hear about a wanted criminal for major crime sprees that now can’t hurt others thanks to some of your personal hard work.