Inspiring Success

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May 8, 2014

Hard work and focus pay off

MeganLewis Megan Lewis, systems integrator at Lockheed Martin
Looking back on her science and technology classes, Megan Lewis remembers the classmates who seemed like geniuses.

“They would just relax and coast through difficult classes,” Lewis says. Meanwhile, she says, “I’d work hard and attend study groups. There were times that my hard work would pay off because I would receive higher test scores.”

Challenging herself in high school, college, and graduate school — and not letting herself be intimidated by her peers — has paid off for Lewis, 32, who these days enjoys a successful engineering career at Lockheed Martin.

While she was in high school, Lewis noted that technology jobs paid near the top of all professions. (On her professional salary, the mother of two has not only bought a house but also helped support her husband while he attended college.) So, while still in high school, Lewis signed up for the most advanced math and science courses she could take. She wisely enlisted the help of a family friend — a retired NASA mechanical engineer — to serve as her mentor and tutor.

In college, she continued to push herself. At the University of California at Davis she found herself the only female in her quantum mechanics class. When she struggled, she was quick to reach out to her professors, lest she fall behind.

Lewis graduated in 2005 and quickly found a job in the San Jose, CA, at Lockheed Martin, the top U.S. defense contractor with annual sales of nearly $40 billion, satisfying a long-held goal to work with advanced satellite technology. She quickly enrolled in the company’s Engineering Leadership and Development Program (ELDP), a three-year rotation among different positions within the business to help her discover her long-term interests. In the course of that program, she was able to do field work at a 24-hour satellite tracking station — just the sort of work she had imagined in her youth.

Since graduating from the ELDP, Lewis has worked on a number of different projects as a systems engineer and integration and test engineer. “I am constantly exposed to new things. As an engineer at heart, I think it’s very exciting.”

In her job she has also found herself doing information technology (IT) work.

“I’m a systems integrator. I work not only with computer systems, but with other equipment, too, and architect it so that it all works together.” Understanding networking and security — two lynchpins of IT infrastructure knowledge — are key to making the system run smoothly.

Getting computers and other equipment to communicate with one another securely is just one step. Another layer that Lewis must help facilitate is the “status and command” mode of systems.

“There is this overarching monitoring of everything. If your oil is low in your car, you need to get a light that flashes that says, ‘Your oil is low.’ I’m making sure that all those appropriate sensors and status points are fully integrated into a complex system.”

While employed full time, Lewis earned her master’s degree in engineering management at Santa Clara University. Outside of her job, raising a family is her main focus. “The thing I enjoy right now is observing my daughter grow and develop. They truly are like a sponge!” Lewis still looks for time to pursue favorite hobbies of yoga, swimming, and traveling.

Reflecting on what she’s accomplished already, she is grateful that she was able to find her path early.

“Even when I was in high school, I didn’t know much about engineering or IT due to little exposure and focus. I knew that I had an affinity for math which enabled me to gravitate toward engineering. I think educating our future workforce is extremely important. The Lockheed Martin approach to STEM outreach includes partnerships with many non-profit organizations and schools which I think is fantastic.”

Her goal is to continue to learn and develop in her career.

Says Lewis: “You have to be goal-oriented and driven to never lose sight of what you want from life.”