Suet is a Vehicle Engineering manager at the Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence in Melbourne, Florida. Her team consists of designers, analysts and responsible engineers specializing in mechanical and fluids subsystems disciplines. These disciplines include fuel, hydraulics, environmental controls, thermal management, life support, mechanisms and crew equipment.
Suet sets her team up for success by supporting their professional development, performance reviews, and training. She also co-leads a thermal fluids team, which develops common practices for the thermal and fluids subsystems community across Northrop Grumman’s different groups.
When did you first join Northrop Grumman and how did you find the position?
I first joined Northrop Grumman through their summer college internship program, which led to a full-time position after graduating in May 2000. I started as a fluids subsystems mechanical designer, eventually advancing through multiple leadership roles. After a few mentorship opportunities, I found myself wanting to take on a role where I could help others with their career development. That in mind, I applied to become a section manager and eventually worked my way up to my current position.
What would you say is the best part of working at Northrop Grumman?
The best part of working at Northrop Grumman are the wide range of opportunities available to employees. I explored many different roles during my 19 years on the E-2 Program without leaving the company. I have been a designer, analyst, supplier manager, project manager, design lead, cost account manager and a functional manager.
What brought you to Melbourne?
Moving to Melbourne was a pleasant surprise for my family and me. My husband and I grew up in New York City and never thought about moving anywhere over an hour away. When Northrop Grumman decided to move the E-2 program from Bethpage, New York to Melbourne, Florida, we were initially hesitant to follow along.
With several years as part of Northrop Grumman family and a rising interest in experiencing something new, my family and I gave relocating some serious thought. After much deliberation and research, our family decided to make the move. That was back in 2014, and my husband and I still agree it was probably one of the best decisions we made for our family.
Overall, we’re less stressed and it feels like vacation every time we visit the beach just 15 minutes away. I was happy to discover that Melbourne has good restaurants that are open late, supermarkets that run 24/7, Orlando is close, and the weather is great. Florida has many Spring-like days, which was a sharp contrast to New York. There are definitely hot and humid days too, but those turned out to be the best pool days and despite what everyone thinks, alligators aren’t roaming around everywhere!
Is Melbourne a good place to live and raise a family?
I truly believe Melbourne is a great place to raise a family. My husband, our two boys, and I spend most weekends exploring theme parks, science museums, state parks and different towns. It’s awesome to be able to casually drop by Disney World whenever we want to, especially when we had annual passes.
Occasionally, I get to watch rocket launches with my boys directly from our backyard and we learn about space exploration right up the road at the Kennedy Space Center. Our boys even went to summer camp there, which was very exciting for them. The location also allows us to go on fun road trips we never dreamed of doing before. We’ve visited San Antonio, New Orleans, Chattanooga, Key West, the Everglades, Sanibel Island and many more. As a family unit, Melbourne is better than I ever imagined it would be for us.
What is something you had to overcome as a woman working in STEM?
When I became a new mother, I found it uncomfortable to ask for accommodations at work, but I had co-workers who were very supportive, and I was fortunate enough to have an office manager who helped provide the privacy and space I needed. They also gave me the mental support I needed to continue with my choices as a new parent. As a leader now, I am committed to passing that support along to new parents within our organization.
Do you have any advice for girls interested in STEM careers?
If I could give advice to girls interested in STEM careers, it would be to never feel discouraged by your gender because it has nothing to do with how well you perform at your job. I focused on engineering because I was fascinated by math and science growing up.
Be sure to explore different career paths through internships or jobs that offer rotational opportunities. Keep an open mind and don’t be discouraged if you are denied an opportunity – there’s always something new to learn and gain. Every time you try something new, pay attention to the different positions you come into contact with. That should help narrow down your options! And remember, there’s no rush; it is okay to take several years to find what you enjoy most.
What’s your most memorable career accomplishment working at Northrop Grumman?
My most memorable career accomplishment that I’m proud of is being part of the core group to receive the “Distinguished Engineering Project Achievement Award” presented by the Engineer’s Council at the Palm Beach County National Engineers Week Honors & Awards Banquet in 2015. The project presented many challenges and it was a high honor for the team to be recognized publicly for it. Personally, it was the first project that helped me understand how important teamwork is, and in the end I established lifelong friendships.
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