Danielle Dawson

Hardware Engineering Lead, BAE Systems Inc.

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There are seats at the table for everyone across all walks of life.

What do you do?

A hardware lead is the technical conscious for all mechanical and electrical aspects of a design. I’m responsible for managing requirements, schedule, budget, resources, analyses, and ensuring that the design follows the hardware development process. I work across disciplines to drive a clean handoff to operations and provide engineering support throughout the build.

Why did you choose this field?

Growing up, I could usually be found holding the flashlight for my diesel mechanic dad in the garage. It was time that I cherished and enjoyed listening to my dad explain to me the way that vehicles work. I was always interested in math and science topics, but particularly had an interest in aerospace and aircrafts.

I do not think there was a specific incident where I realized I wanted to be an engineer. My parents encouraged me to research and come up with my own solutions to the many times I would ask “why” or “how” before answering me themselves. This drove me to be interested in solving-problems, especially for those in the defense industry.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I had the opportunity to intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and it was a dream come true. I think as kids we are told to “follow our dreams” but growing up adds a bit of realism. We become our own worst critics and can begin to lose sight of what could be achievable. I wish younger me would know that sometimes the vision changes a little bit, but you can end up in places you’d never imagine.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Helping my team and knowing that the designs we work on have the possibility to help others. Even the simplest component in a design has a purpose that makes the whole system possible and that’s pretty amazing.

Best advice for next generation?

There are seats at the table for everyone across all walks of life. The best designs, inventions, and break throughs come from diverse experiences.

The other piece I would say was something I learned from a speech by Admiral William McRaven. He preaches to start off every day by making your bed. Even on the toughest or most overwhelming days, you will still have accomplished something and provided yourself a comfortable place to rest your head and try again tomorrow.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

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