The word from women engineers
From a panel for STEM students, advice for the coming generation of engineering professionals
Raytheon engineer Julie Higgins loves math and always has.
“I used to stay after school for Math Club, and I even chose the hardest, coolest math as my college major,” said Higgins, who works on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, Raytheon's advanced spaceborne sensor.
Higgins joined five other women engineers from Raytheon, NASA and the U.S. Air Force who shared their personal and professional stories on a panel discussion for 100 girls from FIRST Robotics, a program for young students designed to prompt interest in science, technology, engineering and math - the subjects known collectively as STEM.
“It’s important that kids find ways, like joining a school club, to experience and learn more about the things they’re interested in the most,” said Higgins.
Raytheon has invested in STEM education to nurture the next generation of skilled professionals. The panel, called Women in STEM, featured Higgins; Diana Trujillo, NASA engineer and leader, Mars Curiosity Rover Program; Dana Madsen, mechanical engineer and officer, U.S. Air Force; Janet Lui, program manager, Raytheon Space Systems; Angela Phillips, principal engineering fellow, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems; and Le Louis, chief engineer, Raytheon Systems Development Center.
More than 42,000 viewers have heard the engineers’ inspirational stories and advice from the original Facebook Live Stream. You can meet the engineers on the “Women in STEM” Q&A Panel and hear their best advice in the full video on YouTube.
Advice from Female Engineers
Believe in yourself
“Getting into a highly selective NASA internship program made me realize that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have an Ivy League degree or much money in my pocket. What mattered was my desire and my passion for what I wanted to become." Believing in yourself is essential to being successful.
- Diana Trujillo, NASA engineer and leader, Mars Curiosity Rover Program
Try different things to find your passion
"Experience, explore and try different things to find out what fits you. Take things apart, take a class, or find a mentor. Whatever your passion ends up being, give it your best. Try hard. Put your heart into it. Don’t be afraid to fail."
- Janet Lui, program manager, Raytheon Space Systems
Build a support system
“Women in STEM fields are growing compared to years ago, when I was the only girl in my college engineering classes. Females should support one another. Build a support group and talk about the challenges you’re each facing and help one another in overcoming them. No one needs to face it alone.”
- Angela Phillips, principal engineering fellow, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems
Find an internship
So, you want to be an engineer, but have no idea what kind? "During the summer, find an internship that allows you to experience different areas of the field – hardware, software, manufacturing, operations, supply chain. Freshman college engineering classes often cover all engineering disciplines, and it’s a great way to help you discover where your interests lie."
- Le Louis, chief engineer, Raytheon Systems Development Center
Have emotional intelligence
“Be connected to those you work with or lead, so that you know when someone is overworked, upset or excited. Understand and address issues that may not be said verbally.”
- Julie Higgins, system design engineer, Raytheon Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)
Use both sides of your brain
“Innovation takes creative and artistic thinking. That’s what is needed for innovators to be a step ahead or to think about how we can improve a product five and ten years down the road. Being the best you can be requires using the right and left sides of your brain. The idea that you can only be artistic or only analytical is wrong.”
- Dana Madsen, mechanical engineer and officer, U.S. Air Force