Career Advice for Early Career Systems Engineers

Ann Hodges
[email protected]

A panel of experienced systems engineers address questions posed by UTEP systems engineering undergraduate and graduate students.

Panel Moderator: Arno Granados

Panelists: Marlene Brown, Gregory Chavez, Quinn Fatherley, Ann Hodges, Cheryl Kinchen, Raymond Wolfgang

Bios: (in alphabetical order by last name)

Marlene Brown is currently teaching and running the photovoltaics program at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). She retired from a multifaceted career at Sandia National Labs. She engaged and facilitated high level strategic planning, problem solving along with System Engineering activities. She has worked evaluating of systems and components and as a Quality Engineer in a Subsystem and Components group. She also worked in an On-Orbit Satellite Analysis Group working with satellite sensors and detectors. Her first job at Sandia was in the Photovoltaics Systems Group where she worked with all levels of systems applications in the field and in the lab. Marlene has worked with photovoltaic applications for over 25+ years. Marlene has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Mexico, and a 2nd Engineering Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology. Her full bio is available here.

Gregory Chavez is a Systems Engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and is the INCOSE LANL Corporate Advisory Board representative.

Quinn Fatherley has been a Senior System Engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since 2018. Role is lead lifecycle planner for operational testing and system maintenance. Collateral duties include system interface analysis, functional decomposition, requirements derivation, plus validation and verification tracing and documentation. Previously he served at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 16 years as system requirements architect and system operational testing and maintenance planner. Quinn holds a BSME from UNM, a BA in English and History from UConn, and served on US Navy fast-attack submarines following completion of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Quinn is a Director-at-Large for the INCOSE Enchantment Chapter a member of the INCOSE Requirements Working Group, and contributor on the INCOSE Guide to Verification and Validation 2021 Revision project.

Arno Granados is currently the Engineering Manager for Mission Systems at Boeing LEOS in Albuquerque, Arno’s career has included roles in scientific research, software engineering, systems engineer, and management. His domain experience includes research astronomy; ground based, airborne, and space-based imaging systems; UAS, missile systems, and software system of systems. His systems engineering perspective has been developed through hands-on work in both R&D and production environments. Arno is an evangelist for “Digital Engineering”, and participates in the NDIA/INCOSE Digital Engineering Information Exchange working group (DEIX-WG). While his career has morphed from science, to engineering, to management, his love of discovery has never diminished. Arno is Past President of the INCOSE Enchantment Chapter.

Ann Hodges has worked over 45 years at Sandia National Laboratories and is a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. She is the Mission Services Division’s systems engineering lead for the systems engineering part of the Project and Product Delivery System (PPDS) at Sandia National Laboratories and is currently a project manager and systems engineer for a complex exploratory-phase project. She is a primary author of the risk-informed graded approach to the application of project management, systems engineering and quality management which is one of the key aspects of the PPDS.  She obtained a BBA and an MS in Computer Science from the University of NM, and holds CSEP, SAFe SPC4, and CMII certifications. Leadership positions that Ann has held in the Enchantment Chapter include Director-at-Large 2011-2012, President-Elect and acting Secretary 2013, President 2014-2015, and Secretary 2015-present.  She is the chair of the INCOSE Systems Engineering for Early Stage R&D working group.

Cheryl Kinchen works for SAIC as the Engineering, Development, Integration, and Sustainment (EDIS) Chief Engineer at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM supporting the U.S. Air Force Space Systems Center (SSC) Innovation and Prototyping Directorate and Prototype Operations Division (DCIO) in its mission to operate and sustain Ground System Enterprise (GSE) for research and development, demonstration, and operational missions, and to modernize satellite ground systems for the United States Space Force (USSF) operations, research & development and demonstration missions. She is familiar with the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF) and Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). She has 20+ years of experience on Defense contract programs applying systems engineering to evolving capabilities. She is a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) with the International Council of Systems Engineering (INCOSE). She is a INCOSE Technical Leadership Institute fellow, the past-president of the INCOSE Southern Maryland Chapter. She holds a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Strayer University, District of Columbia. Cheryl volunteers across several programs with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to include INCOSE, Society of Women Engineers, Girl Scouts, FIRST Robotics, Science Fairs, Future Cities and the International Student UAV Competition. She is also a mentor to professional women engineers and collegiates.

Raymond Wolfgang brings his unique requirements and V&V expertise to a host of national systems in his role as a Systems Engineer at Sandia National Laboratories. He has led requirements authorship and analysis for several programs, deployed several process improvement initiatives in requirements management, and currently leads an effort to complete a large program’s use case portfolio. Before Sandia, while working for the US Navy (NAVWAR in San Diego), Raymond managed installation requirements for a critical ship-board technology refresh and served as a Systems engineer and Electrical engineer on several research and development programs. His INCOSE papers focus on requirements state-of-practice. A graduate of both Purdue and Penn State Universities in the United States, he is originally from the Philadelphia, PA area.

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