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  • Suzie Olsen

Engineers Who Have Served

Engineers come from all walks of life. Some of us started our path in engineering right out of college. Some of us started as engineers after a career break. And some of us started in engineering after serving in the military. With Veteran's Day around the corner in the United States, STEM Spark wants to take a moment to honor our colleagues who started their engineering careers after serving in the military. Thank you for your service, and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions on STEM Spark. We appreciate you being positive role models for the next generation of engineers.


What did you do in the military and did your military training/background help you in your current STEM career?


"I was part of the Army Security Agency. My MOS was 98G2LPLK3, which is an electronic war fare polish linguist. The GI Bill helped in completing [my] education. Military experience over all and in electronics has helped in securing engineering positions and to being successful in them."

--Fran S.


"I was an avionics technician in the Marine Corps. I fixed generators, flight control systems, and instrumentation primarily on F-18s and C-130s. The experience provided a large list of benefits that have helped me as an engineer. Attention to detail and the value of strong processes come to mind. Aviation work has a number of strict guidelines and procedures to ensure safety. From the use of safety wire on every bolt to tool and component control, which ensure that foreign objects are never left bouncing around in the aircraft component. Starting out in maintenance has also influenced my design work as an engineer. I try to make things easily accessible with logical layouts to help with troubleshooting and repair. Having struggled with components that are difficult to maintain has taught me the value of even small simple changes, like the use of a captive screw in a hard to reach spot."

--Curtis K.


"I was in the Air Force and did metrology. Most people don't know what that is, but it doesn't have to do with weather. It is the study of weights and measures and has its roots in the ancient Egyptian pyramids. I've used this knowledge extensively as an engineer."

--Heather B.


"I joined the Navy right out of High School.  I'm from a small town and joining the military seemed like a good opportunity.  I was responsible for maintaining the combat system and associated equipment aboard the USS John F Kennedy aircraft carrier. I was nominated and awarded the Copernicus award, which is given by the AFCEA and US Naval Institute award for accomplishments in the areas of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I). I separated from the Navy after my 6 year of enlistment and went to work for one of the private contractors doing engineering support.  Many engineers I worked with encouraged me to go to college to get my engineering degree.  Eventually, I made the leap and went back to school using my Navy college fund to help pay for my education. I [currently] work as a naval civil servant engineer for the for Space and Naval Warfare Center (SPAWAR)."

--Kevin K.


Photo by Ludovic Gauthier on Unsplash

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