I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Gore, a real life Rocket Scientist (Engineer) for General Dynamics. She ordered one of my Rocket Scientist dresses, and I just had to know more. This impressive young and fabulous woman from New York told me a bit about life and her career.
She's a Systems Engineer that works on the launch systems for nuclear missiles for the Navy and the Air Force. She calls herself a "nerd translator" and works with clients to figure out what kind of hardware and software they really need for their detailed design.
One project she worked on was upgrading the launch system for this submarine. How cool is that?!
So if you thought your job is hard....
"It's really exacting work. We have tons of reviews and testing because we're dealing with nuclear missiles and the safety of submarine crews. As I've told a couple of our interns; if another engineer has bugs in their code someone's computer could crash and they could have a bad day. If our code has bugs in it the worst case scenario is that *millions of people could die!* The interns stopped complaining about the reviews after that." - Michelle Gore
Her father is an electrical engineer and got her interested in the field when she was young. She then went into a vocational school to study electronics, and won a scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
As a woman in a highly male-dominated field, she does think that women tend to have better communication skills, and sees that "[Because they are good at managing people] a lot of women in engineering get pushed into management positions, even if they are highly technical."
Even though she was on her high school wrestling team at one point (and had a shaved head) Michelle definitely doesn't shy away from being feminine now. She realized halfway through college that femininity is really a power to be embraced. She thinks it's good to bring a little attention to yourself and be memorable.
When I asked her what advice she would give for young people entering STEM fields, she emphasized:
"Kids need to get as much experience as they can and really take advantage of networking opportunities that come up through internships. They really don't teach enough communication and people skills in college."
Michelle also mentors kids for Project Lead the Way, a leading program for STEM education.
In the future, Michelle said she'd love to be a Chief Engineer for Airforce Ground doing high level architecture.