Solving Critical Problems for the Warfighter: Meet Yesha

By Jillian Wright and Rhonda Hewitt

Not everyone can say that they’re actually a rocket scientist, but Yesha can. Her passion for aersopace emerged during childhood, and she’s continued to pursue this in her career at Northrop Grumman.

“Growing up, I was always fascinated with planes and rockets,” she said. “When I was 10, I read an article about the space shuttles like Columbia and Challenger, and I was inspired by the women scientists in those programs.”

Later in life, she took pilot lessons in high school, and then she learned how to build and fly rockets at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering.

Young woman standing in front of missile model

Currently, Yesha is a guidance, navigation and control (GNC) analyst and design engineer for Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) system in California. AARGM-ER is a next generation missile with a new rocket motor and warhead that will be used on U.S. Navy aircraft to detect and engage long-range adversary air defense systems.

“It’s very exciting to develop algorithms that make this missile autonomous,” she adds. “I get to learn about different areas and disciplines, and it’s amazing to work on the system that will help the warfighter achieve their mission goals.”

Earlier in her career, she experienced a defining moment during a flight test a few months into her role. When the test conductor was unable to attend as originally planned, she had to take charge and lead the entire procedure, explaining to the pilots how it would be conducted and what needed to be done before, during and after.

“I thought that I was going to drown, but we completed all of the objectives and it ended up being successful,” she said. “Looking back on it now, I realized that I can do anything.”

Yesha has carried that mentality in her career ever since. Defining what’s possible is simply a daily part of her job, and it’s always a team effort.

“As a GNC engineer, I test limits every day and learn from other people and apply that in my work,” she said. “I work with some of the greatest minds and have great mentors who help me to solve problems.” 

When she’s not working, Yesha enjoys organizing STEM outreach school events, serving as an active member of the American Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics organization, and attending conferences to learn about the latest technology projects and network with other professionals. She also loves spending time with family and friends, hiking, biking, snowboarding and, of course, flying.

For those interested in pushing the bounds what’s possible at Northrop Grumman, Yesha recommends staying curious and collaborative, which has been key in her role.

“This is the time to show initiative, so explore what’s out there and work with other teams in different disciplines to learn from them,” she said. “Don’t shy away from speaking out and asking ‘what if?’”

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