WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – “How I got into engineering is pretty simple, I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. I shifted a little bit from there, from astronaut, to fighter pilot and eventually to aerospace engineer,” said Beth Christensen on an episode of AFLCMC’s Leadership Log podcast featuring a panel of women engineers.
Joining Christensen on the episode are Jessica Corbett, Sylvia Tran, Becky Kennery, Megan Baker and Kate Walker. All work in engineering positions in the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate.
During the conversation, they addressed some of the challenges they faced starting out in their various engineering career specialties.
Walker spoke about her early career as a Navy officer presenting a problem with a valve on the ship when others with years of experience couldn’t see the issue.
“I traced out the diagram and took a look at what was going on, what I expected to see. I was correct, the valve had been installed backwards for 23 years,” Walker said. “We corrected that and prevented the issues that could have been caused by that valve being backwards.”
Kennery expanded on the notion of problem solving.
“With engineering, a lot of it is solving problems and going through the engineering process. Even if it’s not a discipline I studied in school, I can still apply a lot of those engineering principles and processes across the board,” she said. “And also asking a million questions to all the [experts] I have around me really helps.”
The need to trust your convictions in finding solutions was something the entire panel felt would benefit anyone starting a career in engineering.
“I think one of the most important things for any engineer – female or not – is you have to have perseverance or the word I like to use is stick-to-it-ness,” Corbett said. “What you need to learn in engineering school is how to solve a problem and that is any problem. Some are hard, some easy, some you can solve on your own and sometimes you’re going to need help.”
To hear the full conversation, you can watch Leadership Log on YouTube at https://youtu.be/1YBsl8J-g14
. You can also listen by searching “Leadership Log” on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Radio Public or Breaker.