This interview was conducted in 2021.
Q1: Describe your current position/role.
I am a Chief Engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton specializing in systems engineering and cybersecurity integration. I lead multiple engineering projects for our Navy clients in the San Diego area providing cybersecurity services and systems engineering expertise for Navy platforms and C4I systems.
Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?
I am extremely proud to have reached the level of Chief Engineer at Booz Allen and get the opportunity to lead, develop, and mentor our engineering experts. I have enjoyed developing as an engineering leader and having the opportunity to grow and learn since starting as an entry-level engineer.
Growing up it was always a dream to work in the space industry, and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to be a systems engineer supporting NASA and the development of the Orion spacecraft, NASA’s next vehicle that will travel to the moon and beyond.
Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?
Selling clients and projects on the importance of systems engineering. As systems engineers we understand the critical need for quality engineering practices throughout the systems development lifecycle, yet it is a pervasive challenge to show the importance of systems engineering in meeting cost, schedule, and performance demands. I always strive to see this as an opportunity because this means there will always be a demand for high-performing systems engineers.
Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?
Be willing to learn as much as you can and find areas to grow and develop in each opportunity you get to progress towards your goals. Systems Engineers have the unique capability to provide expertise to a vast spectrum of technical challenges, and opportunities will present themselves if you are willing to challenge yourself, provide leadership through service, and identify where you need to grow.
Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?
I strive to find new technical areas where I can learn and challenge myself, and also be willing to ask questions on how we can use or expertise to improve. I enjoy reading and learning as much as I can and speaking with clients and experts about their challenges.
Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?
I’m excited to continue my growth as an engineering leader and look forward to serving as a senior leader at Booz Allen. My goals are to find new ways to tackle our client’s engineering challenges and grow and cultivate engineering talent.
Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?
I’m an avid golfer; I played competitively in the past and now play recreationally. I am a proud graduate of Virginia Tech and am very active in our alumni community, having served as our Alumni Association’s San Diego Chapter President. I enjoy video games and have been a huge sci-fi fan my whole life; my interest in Star Trek as a youth is one of the factors that drove me to want to be an engineer. I love athletics, and at one time was a professional basketball official. Along with my Hokies, I enjoy cheering on my Kansas City Chiefs and am still excited that I got to watch them win the Super Bowl after supporting for many years.
Q8: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?
I was encouraged by my Booz Allen leadership to pursue the certification. As partners with INCOSE, Booz Allen is an advocate of the certification and I became interested in demonstrating my knowledge by becoming an ASEP. The SEP certification continues to be a differentiator in the engineering community and can help an aspiring systems engineer distinguish themselves. I have since upgraded to CSEP and look forward to the day when I will be eligible for ESEP.
Q9: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?
It helped establish the foundational systems engineering expertise I possess. Being a SEP enables you to stand out in the engineering community and reinforces that you have the required knowledge and expertise to help a project apply systems engineering principles.
Q10: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?
The need for systems engineering remains critically high. Despite the benefits that we know systems engineering provides, it remains one of the core challenges our clients face.
Q11: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”
I started my career as an Aerospace Engineer; that was also the field of my degree. I have been a Systems Engineer during my time with Booz Allen, but have had the opportunity to work in several technical disciples including spacecraft development and cybersecurity. I have been able to grow and develop to take on the opportunity to have the title of Chief Engineer.