The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has named Northrop Grumman’s Neville Maycock, director of Electronics & Payloads, Distinguished Engineer of the Year. As their most prestigious award, NSBE selects an engineer based upon their outstanding achievements in the industry, exceptional leadership, as well as their series of awards and accolades. Those selected must also demonstrate social and community contributions, be involved with and support NSBE’s mission, and exemplify accomplishments across engineering and sciences.
How do you feel as Distinguished Engineer of the Year?
It is a prestigious honor. When I started out as an engineering student, I looked up to the engineers featured in NSBE’s magazine and hoped to one day be half as accomplished as those featured. It’s still unreal that I’m now one of those engineers.
What about your past work contributed to this honor?
I believe it is my community service work. Many people sacrificed for me to get to where I am today; some of those I know and some I do not. I believe in order to repay those people and their sacrifices, I must pay it forward – and that is a way of life for me now.
Tell us a little bit about your biggest accomplishments throughout your career.
Before my selection as NSBE’s Distinguished Engineer of the Year, my biggest technical accomplishment was obtaining two U.S. Patents. The Patents validated my skills as an engineer. I’m also proud to have been recognized in 2018 as Black Engineer of the Year Award’s (BEYA) Modern-Day Technology Leader, then as a 21st Century Trailblazer in Military Aircraft and Aviation at NSBE’s Aerospace Systems Conference.
My biggest non-technical accomplishment is winning two Florida high school state baseball championships as an assistant coach. It was memorable to share the championships with a head coach who I admired and played for when in high school.
Looking back at your career, is there anything that surprised you or major challenges you faced?
The thing that surprised me in my career is the impact I have had on others. I get great joy seeing those that I mentored reach success. One of the major challenges I’ve faced in my career was overcoming my fear of failure. Once I realized that failure was one of the best learning experiences possible, I began to excel. Failures that once held me back, helped me to make more informed decisions in the future.
You are chosen for not only your professional accomplishments, but also community involvement. Can you elaborate on your community involvement?
For more than 11 years, I’ve been an assistant baseball coach at Melbourne Central Catholic High School. This role gives me a chance to have fun while giving back to the school that educated me more than 20 years ago. I am also a member of NSBE’s Central Florida Professionals and Chicago’s NSBE Professionals chapters. With those chapters, I’ve played a key role in coordinating and executing K-12 STEM initiatives, as well as mentoring college students to assist in NSBE’s mission and vision. Additionally, I am also an advisor to the African-American Task Group (AATG) Melbourne chapter, where I assist with their collegiate relations and K-12 STEM efforts. Lastly, I serve as the executive sponsor for Oklahoma City’s AATG chapter. In any city I work in or travel to, I make an effort to visit a school to share my professional and life experiences.
What brought you to Northrop Grumman?
I worked across the street from Northrop Grumman’s Melbourne facility where I could see all the action. I wanted to be a part of that growth and viewed Northrop Grumman as a place where I could take my career to the next level. With the impact and success I’ve had over the last five and a half years at Northrop Grumman, I know I made the right decision coming here.
How does your career experience help you in your current role at Northrop Grumman?
In my career, I’ve been a design engineer, manufacturing engineer, program manager, and as a functional manager. I’ve had experience working on rockets, aircraft systems, and space payloads, and have also held leadership roles in various employee resource groups. Those diverse experiences prepared me for my current role, where I have to wear different hats and share different experiences in order to make my employees and various programs successful.
How does your experience and knowledge allow you to mentor those within the organization?
Passing my knowledge on to others is a way to repay those who invested time and energy in my career and personal development. Additionally, I don’t want others to make similar mistakes that I made. When I pass my knowledge on to others, it opens up more space for me to focus on increasing my existing knowledge base in areas that I may be weaker.
Mentoring is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. I find it very important to accelerate the development of our early and mid-career employees, as they will be stepping into key roles earlier in their careers. I’ve lost count of the number of people I mentor, but it’s something I take great pride in doing and often use my personal time to make happen.
How do you plan to continue contributing to the industry and community?
I plan to continue the mentoring and teaching I’ve done over the years to prepare the next generation to fill the various roles that will come available in the future. Within the community, I will drive to continue to enlighten and highlight the benefits of a career in STEM. As technology evolves, it will become more and more important for students to be well versed in STEM concepts.
What do you see for your future?
I hope to see more underrepresented engineers and business people find success in our industry. One of the main reasons I chose to work in the Aerospace and Defense arena was to have an impact on the safety of our country. I look forward to seeing how systems and teams I’ve been on continue to have an impact on those serving our country.