Job Title: Software Engineer
Type of Company: My company designs software programs for a variety of government agencies and commercial companies.
Education: BS, Mathematics, The University of Chicago MS, Computer Science, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey
Previous Experience: I started as a mathematician for the US Navy programming applications for several US Navy systems. I then was a systems analyst for a large systems engineering company that also designed naval systems.
Job Tasks: I am a software engineer with several responsibilities within my company. We are a small engineering company so many software engineers have several responsibilities. My main responsibility is to serve as a project manager for a program that organizes test procedures for a rocket system. I coordinate the customer requests and requirements with the programmers and make sure the design matches the requests. I then test the program to make sure it works correctly and fulfills the requirements. I document all the changes and make sure we store the final versions correctly. I make sure our engineers follow our software engineering standards. I keep track of our hours spent on the project and the costs to invoice the customer. I do monthly progress reports to my managers so they know whether we are on schedule and within budgets.
For another of my tasks, I am part of a team that develops the software standards and processes for our company. We follow standards and models approved by the US Department of Defense. We define standard reports, work products, and quality levels for all the software development projects in my company.
My third task is to coordinate the support roles for my office. These persons include the people who set up all our computer systems and software, order our hardware parts for the systems we build, make sure we have the proper security systems, write documents for our government systems, send out the bills and make sure we get paid, and the office receptionist.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the occasional travel I get to do. I have visited rocket launching sites in Florida and in California. I got to work next to huge rockets and in the launch control center. I even got to go on a submarine, but had to get special permission because women are not usually allowed onboard. I also got to see the space shuttle up close.
The worst part is the paperwork and sometimes dealing with employees who are not performing their job up to our standards.
1.) Don't be afraid of science and mathematics; once you get into the details, it is very exciting to be able to solve problems. Women make great scientists!
2.) Consider engineering as a career; there are many job opportunities and the work is exciting and changes a lot; you won't be doing the same thing forever.
3.) Join a professional society - people already in your field can help you with problems and can find employment opportunities.
Additional Thoughts: Personal qualities that have helped in my career as a mathematician and software engineer include patience, attention to detail, having good writing and speaking skills, being willing to stand up for my ideas, being able to handle many tasks at once, keep learning, not being bothered when I was the only female in some classes.
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