Senior Programs Manager & Systems Engineer, Aviation Systems & Programs
1) What led you to pursue a career in engineering in the aviation sector?
I grew up flying with my grandfather in the backcountry of Idaho, Washington and Oregon in his Cessna 180 – I remember being really excited when I could finally reach the rudder pedals! As soon as it was legal for me to do so, I began taking lessons to learn to fly. Despite not having a driver’s license yet, I earned my private pilot certificate when I was 17. I received a scholarship from a local air museum for a portion of my flight training costs, and I worked manual labor in the summers to pay for the remainder. My family was very supportive of me learning to fly. We even had a system where I would call the family phone on my way back from a cross-country so my mom would know when to pick me up from the airport. All they would hear is engine noise, but she knew what it meant.
So, with one grandfather an airline pilot and one grandfather an engineer, my interest in both led me to study mechanical engineering with the hope to one day work with airplanes. My engineering grandfather taught me about working hard for something that helps people and that you believe in. And when I was 8 or 9, my pilot grandfather raved to me about how awesome this new company “Garmin” was to work with when he installed a new radio in his airplane. His description of the product, safety benefits, customer service, etc. really struck a chord. I wanted to work for a company I believed in and that pilots loved. Who would have thought my grandpa’s first Garmin product would go on to make such an impact!
2) Describe your role at Garmin and what a typical day looks like.
At its simplest, my job is to help aircraft manufacturers certify and use Garmin avionics in their aircraft. Every day is different! There is a great deal of communication required to keep everyone aligned and ensure expectations are met. Throughout the lifecycle of a project, I may work on wiring diagrams, system descriptions, designing new products or features, scoping efforts, creating and following schedules, reviewing system safety, answering questions from customers in the field, and a bunch of other things. It’s probably no surprise that with a project like Autoland, my typical day varies greatly and can prove to be challenging, interesting and exciting to say the least.
3) Developing Autoland, Garmin’s revolutionary flight deck safety feature, has been a huge partof your life for the past few years. How does it feel to see it finally certified and in the marketplace?
It’s so rewarding and exciting to see Autoland certified. I get to finally tell my grandfather about it – he keeps asking what I’m working on and I haven’t been able to tell him! I have never worked on something I care about so much with such amazing, passionate people. Honestly, I wish I was able to work on something like Autoland forever – it’s been challenging, exhausting and so much fun.
4) Garmin is among the most innovative companies in general aviation. How does the company’s culture help drive that innovation and desire to offer the best solutions for pilots?
I think if you ask anyone at Garmin, they will likely say the people are what make Garmin great. Garmin seeks out and hires passionate people who want to make an impact. Garmin invests a lot in R&D and encourages engineers to become pilots and fly regularly, even flying engineers to AirVenture every year to see our products in action and meet pilots. With so many engineers who are pilots or friends/spouses of pilots, it brings home who you are making these products and features for.
5) As a successful female in a STEM field, what would you say to otheryoung women considering a career in engineering within the aviation field?
I have found mentors and friendships to be very helpful in navigating jobs, difficult situations and tough days. Friends and mentors are especially great to celebrate with, too. Some of the best advice my mentors gave me is to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone but remember to take care of yourself and your other interests as well.