From M&M math to Calculating Tomato Acidity: One Engineer’s Path to Her Dream Career

From M&M math to Calculating Tomato Acidity: One Engineer’s Path to Her Dream Career
December 02, 2020

Only around 25 percent of the workforce in technology-related fields are women today, and Naomie Baptiste wants to change that.

“It’s important to have more women in STEM fields because diversity of thought and experiences drives innovation. Representation matters,” Baptiste said, who is also being recognized as a 2020 40 Under 40 Award winner by the Orlando Business Journal.

As a young girl, she had a poster on her wall of Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space. Baptiste wants to follow in Jamison’s footsteps to serve as a role model for other young women as well.

“Seeing that poster made me feel like I, too, could go to space,” she said, “hence why I have such great career fulfillment working in aerospace.”

As a sustainment engineering control account manager for Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division, she oversees contracts in high-tech programs like the infrared search and track system. With the nickname of The Expeditor, she delivers.

She also volunteers with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers, helping recruit and retain women engineers in the STEM field.

“I love volunteering with the Society of Women Engineers where I get to show young girls what an engineer really looks like and how fun and exciting my job is,” she said.
She currently serves as the SWE-Central Florida Section Executive Vice President where she spearheaded the Stimulus Program geared toward increasing career opportunities for women most impacted by COVID-19. The chapter’s Stimulus Program provided training and funding to get women back into the workforce.

One of her current role models is Stephanie Hill, executive vice president of Rotary and Mission Systems division, who is also the highest ranking Black woman at Lockheed Martin.

“She gets the job done, is approachable and humble,” she said. “Seeing and interacting with Stephanie, makes me feel the sky’s the limit with hard work and exceeding customer expectations.”

Baptiste’s uncle, a retired electrical engineer, first piqued her interest in math while she was in elementary school when he would challenge her to correctly calculate the sales tax on M&Ms at the counter. If she got it right, she’d get her candy. But she got her first real taste of the STEM field in middle school when her science teacher signed her up for every local and regional science fair in the area.

"That’s where I built confidence to speak to my science fair cardboard projects like Tomato-rific, a study on acidity in produce," she said.

Her advice for other girls who are interested in STEM is to not be afraid to ask questions.

She said: “I believe Confucius in ‘The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.’”