These Women Aerospace Engineers Know Innovation
Get to know three outstanding engineers who inspire and empower
June 22, 2017
On International Women in Engineering Day – and every day – we celebrate women engineers and the extraordinary role they play in innovation.
Here are three women who are leading the way.
Melissa Jones, Aerospace Software Engineer in Clearwater, Florida
Engineering background: Software Engineer for 2 1/2 years and a total of 10 years as an engineer. My degree is in Electrical Engineering.
Key responsibilities: I develop test software for Embedded Global Positioning/Inertial Navigation Systems. These units are installed on fighter jets, military helicopters and unmanned space vehicles.
The coolest thing you've done at Honeywell: I was able to share with my family a personal tour of a CH-47 Chinook military helicopter, where one of the products that I test is used as the primary guidance for the platform. It was really cool to show them the end result of the work that I do. Since working at Honeywell, I've had the opportunity to join my local Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section and serve on the Outreach committee. Earlier this year, I hosted an outreach event for teenage girls, "Future Figures," to view and discuss the film Hidden Figures. This event focused on encouraging and fostering the young ladies' interest in STEM fields. This would not have been possible without Honeywell's support of SWE memberships. This support has also allowed me to present at regional SWE conferences to share my experiences and empower Women in STEM
Inspiration to innovate: Innovation is producing a solution to meet a requirement or need. Many times we continue to do things because “it's always been done that way,” but that doesn't mean it's the best solution. I've been driven by the opportunities of ways to improve our test methods.
Extracurricular activities: Family time with my husband, Vernon and our 3-year old son, Landon. We also enjoy trail running, college football (GO ??òNoles) and Do-It-Yourself projects inspired by my Pinterest addiction. (Reference my son's Thomas the Train costume.)
Jennifer Reich, Aerospace Principal Product Design Engineer, Tempe, Arizona
Engineering background: 16 years. I'm a mechanical engineer with a Masters from Arizona State University.
Key responsibilities: I'm an aerodynamic analyst that specializes in the use of computational fluid dynamics to design and develop engine inlet and exhaust systems, pneumatic valves, space and marine valves, and some unique products in between. This means I utilize analysis software to combine fluid mechanics, numerical analysis, and computer science to solve and visualize complicated air flows within intricate aerospace products.
What's the coolest thing you've done at Honeywell: I have worked on many cool things at Honeywell. The most challenging and rewarding project that comes to mind is the redesign of the AGT1500 tank engine's recuperator. The team of people I worked with were amazing and the hard work paid off.
What's exciting about engineering: We design and develop products that go on every type of aerospace vehicle. This directly affects society, whether it be to fly people around the world, to create safer, more powerful vehicles for the military, or to send people to space. I can see the direct impact we are making, and it is extremely exciting to a part of aerospace innovation!
Extracurricular activities: I love spending time with my husband and two kids. My daughter (9) and my son (4) like to think of themselves as future engineers. I am also an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Phoenix Chapter. I have been a member of SWE since I was a freshman in college and the connections I have made over the years are invaluable. I also love participating in SWE outreach events to connect with and inspire future women engineers. My little side hobby is training my border collie in dog agility. He loves it as much as I do!
Mercedes Valladares, Director of Engineering in Aerospace, Clearwater, Florida
Engineering background: 32 years – I always make the disclaimer that I started at the age of 10. My degree is in Industrial & Systems Engineering, but I have worked mostly with Hardware.
Key responsibilities: I am a Customer Engineering Leader for the Boeing Defense business team. Some key responsibilities include working with the Honeywell customer business team and business development on the technology pipeline and new products to drive growth and representing Honeywell engineering at customer meetings.
Why did you become an engineer: I always loved math, science and problem solving. One of my high school counselors planted the seed when he suggested I go into engineering and I wanted to be like my older brother who is a mechanical engineer.
What's the coolest thing you've done at Honeywell: I have worked on many cool products for either satellites or other spacecraft such as the Shuttle and the Orion space capsule, but one of the most unique things I helped develop was an automated CO2 Snow cleaning system, which was designed and built over 22 years ago and it is still in use in the clean rooms at the Clearwater site.
Inspiration to innovate: Innovation is identifying and developing a new way of solving a new or existing problem. It is always the need to provide a solution to a particular challenge or set of challenges which inspires me to innovate.
Extracurricular activities: Reading, spending time at the beach, volunteering at church, traveling and spending time with family and friends.