Meet Diana: Defining Possible One F-35 Fighter Jet at a Time

Can you tell us a bit more about how you found your way to being an intern at Northrop Grumman?

I have known for a while that I wanted to work in the aerospace and defense industry and I have always thought that Northrop Grumman might be the right fit for me.

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As a student at Prairie View A&M University, I was excited when I saw that Northrop Grumman was recruiting at our career fair and went straight to their booth to inquire about an internship opportunity. The recruiting team shared that they were hosting an upcoming Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Invitational where attendees would learn more about the company and have a chance to interview. I applied right away and crossed my fingers for the best. After a few months, I was elated to find out that I was selected to attend the event and soon after, I was made an offer. Of course, I was excited to finally start my journey into the engineering field.

How do you describe your role?

I’m currently an engineering intern in Palmdale, California working on the F-35 Lightning II team in the manufacturing department. I work with engineers that support the paint shop manufacturing mechanics. We perform a daily walk through of the paint shop and speak one-on-one with the technicians on the floor about how things are going and about the importance of keeping lines of communication open between us. We work as a team to address any challenge they face and find innovative solutions to better assist the process.

Has there been a defining moment in your time here?

The work we do here is very meticulous and detail oriented with tight tolerances that we must abide by. Everything that we work on must adhere to the highest standards – even down to the coating application of a fastener. We are constantly working on finding new and improved methods to ensure our technicians have what they need to produce the work necessary in the most efficient and cost effective way.

A defining moment for me was walking out to the paint shop and speaking to the technician who does the actual coating and understanding their job and their concerns. I realized how crucially important it is to work hand in hand with the technicians. We cannot fully understand how to improve something if we,  as the engineers, don’t go to the shop and talk to them. By making the time to talk and understand the technicians, we can collaborate more efficiently to provide solutions that will have a positive influence on everyone from the technicians who help build it to the pilots who fly it.

How does Northrop Grumman support your personal and professional passions?

I am a problem solver at heart. My brain is constantly observing and analyzing situations and processes and finding ways to make it better. In my mind, an opportunity for improvement is everywhere. I also have a passion for helping others. These two things pretty much sum up who I am. Working here at Northrop Grumman has given me the opportunity to put my two passions together. Being able to apply my passions to work that is meaningful to me gives my life purpose.

How have you seen science, technology and engineering come together since you’ve been here?

Since I started my internship, I have seen all three come together here, especially when I walk through the shop floor. I see the machines that assist in the production line, the technicians that assemble complex parts, the precise application of coatings, all the way up to the finished unit. The F-35 itself represents the intersection of the three and I am excited I can be a part of that in my internship here.

How are you Defining Possible?

We are constantly faced with new challenges that force us to think outside the box and in turn push our limits of how we think of things. We must always keep in mind what we know and explore the limits of what is possible when it comes to solving the challenges we face every day. This is who we are as engineers. We solve problems by testing the limits of what we know and what could be. 

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