Northrop Grumman Intern Turned Engineer Honored
For more than 85 years, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers has been supporting the manufacturing industry throughout North America. And since 1980, the SME’s Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award has recognized manufacturing engineers, age 35 or younger, who have made exceptional contributions to the industry. This year, one of Northrop Grumman’s own, Mariely “Ely” Brooks took home this prestigious award.
Northrop Grumman has a long, proud tradition of pioneering innovative manufacturing techniques. At the core of our advanced manufacturing legacy are our highly skilled employees — employees like Ely, a manager of Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Automation at the St. Augustine Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence.
Ely became a member of the Northrop Grumman family as a college intern at the St. Augustine site. In 2005, after graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in mechanical engineering, she began as a full-time industrial engineer, supporting the E-2C/D, EA-6B and F-5 programs. During the past 12 years, she continued to demonstrate an innate ability to master core aerospace manufacturing principles and effectively communicate them from shop floor to top floor and back again.
“Teamwork isn't some cheesy catchphrase to me — it's how things actually get done ”
We sat down with Ely and asked her to share her thoughts on receiving this award and a little bit about her career at Northrop Grumman.
NG: What does receiving this award mean to you?
Ely: It’s humbling and sure means a whole lot. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for many others who have guided and mentored me along the way. I ask a lot of questions; that’s how I best learn new concepts. So, I have many people to thank for this award — the list is long. On a more important and personal note, it’s a reminder of the sacrifices my parents made for my sister and me when we moved from Puerto Rico to Florida for a better life.
NG: What has been the most rewarding moment in your career, so far, at Northrop Grumman?
Ely: In 2013, I was part of the team that won the Aerospace Systems President’s Award for the B-2 aft deck automated assembly line. I was responsible for the robot implementation and getting it to actually go live. This was our site’s first robot, and it helped establish St. Augustine as a CoE. Seeing that robot successfully drill its first hole on a B-2 aft deck was an amazing moment.
NG: How important has teamwork been over the course of your career here?
Ely: Teamwork isn’t some cheesy catchphrase to me — it’s how things actually get done. I currently manage a small team of engineers within our Advanced Manufacturing and Technology organization, and the only way we accomplish things is together. We celebrate our successes and failures together and help each other out. We are united in our mission.
NG: What sets Northrop Grumman apart in terms of advanced manufacturing?
Ely: We are strategic. The number of new technologies out there is almost overwhelming, and so many of them attract a lot of hype. I think we’re really good at deciphering what manufacturing technologies are the right ones for us to invest in and implement so we can continue to lead in our industry and provide innovative products and solutions to our customer: the warfighter.
NG: Speaking of the warfighter, can you share your thoughts on building advanced military aircraft?
Ely: This is everything. So far in my career, I’ve been fortunate to have worked on various programs like the B-2, E-2C/D, F-5 and EA-6B. I’ve not only had the privilege to build aircraft that support our brave warfighters but also work alongside many veterans every day. Hearing them talk firsthand about their experiences and how our products help them complete their mission is highly rewarding.
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