By Christine Bolaños
The men and women of the military go into battlefield ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep the United States safe even when it means leaving family behind for long periods of time. The success of the military is dependent on many factors: how well they communicate with each other, access to dependable maps, and time and resources to stay in touch with family. This would not be possible without the work of technology and engineering specialists, including the four Latinas we have profiled in this piece. Meet four women who have overcome obstacles of their own and prove that STEM careers are waiting for passionate Latinas like themselves.
Helping South America Access Maps
Rose Satz remembers feeling intimidated being in the company of so many high-ranking South American officers. She was working with them on a research project dealing with Geospatial Information Systems. The project involved 21 South American countries and Canada and helped resolve issues of access to maps in some of those countries. By the end of the project, not only was she warmly received and her recommendations accepted, she received a plaque from the General of Peru, the host nation. She regards the project as the biggest accomplishment and rewarding experience of her career.
This is only one of countless projects Satz has worked on during her 30-year-career with the U.S. Army.
Currently, she is assigned to the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) Command and Control Directorate (C2D) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. She serves as a Computer Scientist for Hand Held/Tactical/Technology Branch of the Command Power and Integration (CP&I).
The projects Satz works on ensures the U.S. Army communicates better by using cutting edge technology.
“I am passionate about my work and everything I do is in support of our warfighters,” she shares. “I am honored and humbled to be instrumental in contributing in providing our warfighters valuable tools, thus ensuring dominance in the battlefield through my work.”
Satz gets a lot of satisfaction working as an engineer. Not only does her job give her a sense of purpose but also she mentors students at Aberdeen High School via the Science and Mathematics Academy.
Math was not a strong suit of Satz’s, but engineering was her passion, and she found a way to make it work.
“I decided to work for the federal government because I value freedom, something that I did not have in the Dominican Republic. We were under a dictatorship for 32 years under Trujillo and then there were several revolutions, one of which, in 1965, sent me in exile to the United States,” she says. “Having worked in private industry prior to joining the army, I had to make a big transition and in addition to pursuing a master’s degree in software engineering or computer science, I became well versed in the army by taking a four-year training in Command and General Staff College. This program was opened to civilians in 1993 and I took advantage of this training opportunity, and I am glad I did.”
Ensuring Warfighter Safety
College was not the cool thing for Silvia Faulstich to do as the only girl in a large traditional family with Catholic Mexican parents. Her parents weren’t going to pay for her schooling but she had big dreams. She wanted to be a musician.
Her brother Hector suggested she pick a career that would allow her to pursue music as a hobby and allow her to pay back her student loans. Engineering, she realized, was the perfect fit. It offered a decent salary and there were jobs in the industry.
“I was coming in from a very weak educational program. I had a lot of people telling me to change careers, that I was in the wrong major, but I stayed focused and kept going.” Faulstich says. “I got my engineering degree and went off and started looking for work.”
Today, Faulstich works as a system engineer for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD).
As part of a test team, Faulstich’s role is planning how an aircraft will be tested. “This function requires excellent communication skills, technical understanding and an ability to collaborate with pilots, engineers and managers,” Faulstich says. “Test plan must address, who, when, where and how the testing will be conducted to have both leadership and safety approvals.”
Making sure safety protocol is followed is of utmost importance for NAWCWD.
“We make sure that when we send off a pilot on an F18 he’s going to come back safely. We make sure the software, the hardware, any type of equipment and pilots in them are safe. Right now my biggest workload is remote flying of airplanes,” Faulstich adds.
Working alongside military service members reminds Faulstich of how important safety and effectiveness is in ensuring warfighters are protected and brought back home safely.
Faulstich’s Latina roots have influenced the professional she has become.
“As a Latina, we have inherently good communication and collaboration skills wired genetically into us. We are the glue to most of our families, and it doesn’t seem to stop there, we want a big happy family or group syndrome, in the business world it translates to excellent team building skills,” Faulstich says. “My Latina roots give me an excellent skill set for working under crisis.”
She, like Satz and others, encourages Latinas to pursue STEM careers. “There are jobs, salaries for fun things, flexibility, travel, opportunities to meet wonderful people, and most of all interesting jobs.”
Keeping Coast Guard Communications Flowing
If you had told Laura Delgado when she graduated high school that she was going to be a civil engineer in the U.S. Coast Guard she probably would have called it into question. She set out to be a government major.
It was when she was taking her first basic engineering course in the Coast Guard Academy that a professor took notice of her and convinced her to pursue civil engineering. He, and later a female mentor working on her Ph.D., wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Today, Delgado is assigned to the Civil Engineering Unit (CEU) in Miami, where she serves as an asset line manager for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Technology (C4IT) infrastructure assets throughout the Coast Guard. She manages assets worth about $700 million. Her collateral duties include project manager, contracting officer representative, tower climber trainer, tower program coordinator for the Coast Guard, Leadership Diversity Advisory Council member, Unit Health Promotion Coordinator representative and Disaster Assessment Team ‘A.’
“I do project management from building a new communication tower or doing maintenance on it, designing and building the huts for the towers which are the little buildings that have all the equipment in them and major facilities. Recently, we consolidated communications stations throughout the Coast Guard,” Delgado explains. “We relay information from Coast Guard ships to Coast Guard Command Center. The information desk — the desk of the people that are kind of like 911 operators for the sea — are talking out to the people in ships.”
Today, Delgado fields the towers most of the time. “We’re making sure all of them are good to go. We’ll make sure the structures are structurally sound. We have had towers that have fallen over. We keep up with those structures and make sure they’re able to communicate effectively and able to take on loading of an extra antenna and things like that,” she adds.
Originally from South Texas, Delgado loved growing up in a Hispanic culture, but she was ready to go out and explore. She went to school in Connecticut where she was one of three or four Hispanics in class.
“You work harder and make people know you’re not just there to be a quiet bookworm and to make sure it’s a better place for everyone,” she says.
She wants Latinas to know they are capable of doing anything they set their mind to just like she did.
Helping Military Men and Women Connect to Family, Enjoy Downtime
Kikey Koenig went from migrant worker in a rural Oregon town to becoming the first college graduate in her family. She had big dreams and made the giant leap of moving to Los Angeles with little money, no job, and no friends or family to rely on.
She ended up in the technology field by accident. A temp agency assignment led her to becoming executive assistant to a CTO of a technology company. She was quickly promoted to project manager of technical operation and now works at Boingo Wireless as a project manager in the broadband business unit.
In her role, Koenig manages deployment of Wi-Fi, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) at Army, Air Force and Marine Corps bases all over the western United States. This year, so far, Koenig has helped launch 12 bases and the company has launched about 38 bases overall.
This is the first year Boingo has extended IPTV and Wi-Fi services to military branches.
She loves and is proud of her work with a team that helps bring military men and women a way to relax, have fun and connect with their loved ones back home through TV, gaming, email and Skype.
From stadiums, to malls and airports, the company is reaching out and getting subscribers in the military. “My job is helping with the revenue. It is going to impact Boingo because we are launching all these bases and increasing our footprint in the United States,” Koenig shares. “It gives me great fulfillment and happiness to be giving military men and women a way to connect with their families and also a way to enjoy downtime from military training. I feel really prideful about that and it makes me feel like I’m having an impact in what I do and that my job is important.”
Going to college wasn’t impressed upon Koenig growing up but she knew she wanted a better life.
“As a Latina I think I worked harder and I think I had to face adversity of people that didn’t think I could graduate college,” she recalls.
But she proved them wrong and believes Latinas are capable of dreaming and achieving big. “It’s very important as a Latina to set your goals high,” but regardless of background, she says, “You have to have the right personality and work mentality.”
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