In early May, a conference was held in the Canadian Consulate in Seattle to recognize the achievements of women in Aerospace industries.
Tanya Friberg, ground segment lead for Insitu’s Integrated Product Team (IPT), and Jamie Mack, chief technology officer and co-founder of Zepher Inc., spoke at the conference.
Friberg spoke about Insitu’s products and capabilities, discussing, for example, the different kinds of customers, from commercial to military, as well as the overall uses of an Unmanned Aviation System (UAS).
Friberg highlighted last summer’s Eagle Creek Fire and use of Insitu’s ScanEagle UAS to help define the fire boundaries and evacuation zones. She also provided information about what it’s like to work at Insitu and the caring culture at the company.
Insitu has established, as part of its mission statement, a culture focused on four pillars: Pioneer, Perform, Unite, and Care. Friberg focused on the Pioneer pillar in her time at the conference and provided examples of the female pioneers at Insitu.
She also talked about Insitu’s growth and her own commitment to help other women achieve their full potential and contribution to the company.
Mack spoke about her company Zepher, the concept of advanced manufacturing, and how her personal passion became her career.
“I discussed my path to my current career as an engineer and business founder from a creative kid to a female mathematician. I explained how pursuing my passion for yacht racing allowed me to discover my passion for advanced materials and manufacturing engineering. I spoke to my indirect path and the risks I took to steer my career, including going from Civil to Structural/Material Science Engineering, including returning to school to get my master’s degree after entering the workforce. I encouraged those at the conference to look at their own passions and how they could apply their skills in the expanding aerospace industry driven by unmanned and space systems,” said Mack.
Friberg and Mack talked to The Enterprise about what they took away from the conference.
One of the things both women immediately noticed was the generational diversity of the speakers.
“There were women, young millennial women, who were just breaking into the industry doing amazing things like Kate Scully, and then there were trailblazers from the baby boomer generation like Marjorie Langton. It was very cool to have conversations with them and gain these different perspectives,” said Friberg.
“A large part of this event was networking with women in aerospace and sharing in those experiences,” said Mack.
The topics discussed among the women at the conference were: the importance of diversity groups in engineering so that all groups can see themselves reflected in the industry; the shift in the culture of women leaving and re-entering the workforce after childbirth; women starting their own companies within the aerospace sphere; the advancements Canada has made for women as opposed to the United States; and, the impacts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education on the industry itself.
“One of the biggest indicators that a child has a future in engineering is if they know an engineer. The next indicators are that they show an interest in problem-solving or finding an answer to the question of how things are made,” said Mack.
Overall Friberg and Mack found the conference encouraging and it gave them something to reflect on in their own companies.
“We need to encourage women to apply for jobs in this industry, and in engineering in general, as well as encourage people of color, members of the LGBTQ community,” said Friberg.