In the field: Nawaporn (Anna) Phongpatanakhun

The phrase “STEM career” is a vague term that actually represents an exciting array of jobs. For STEM month, we at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland would like to introduce you to several women who work in STEM fields. They will tell you in their own words why STEM careers are the best!


Anna PhongpatanakhunNawaporn (Anna) Phongpatanakhun
Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman Corporation
Education History: Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering

What do you do? 
I work with electronic hardware, which comprises of circuit cards, gyroscopes, accelerometers. I also work with software.

How did you end up in this field?
In 1989 the B-2 bomber was debut to the public for the first time (it looks like a flying wing), and I became very fascinated by it.  This airplane was nothing like the airplane I came to the United States in.  I was very curious as how this airplane is able to fly with its unique shape.  This inspired me to ask a lot of questions to my teacher as to how this airplane can fly and who gets to work on it.  She told me that engineers designed the airplane, and to become an engineer I have to understand math and science.  From that day on I made it my goal to become an engineer.

What is a typical day like at your job?
It’s hard to describe a typical day as each day is different.  Most days consist of working with documentation this can be anything from generating requirements to create or update the hardware, coming up with plans and procedures for testing the hardware, and generating test reports.  Of course there are times that I have to attend meetings.  These meeting are important as they help ensure that the requirements, test plan/procedure, and reports are correct.  Then there are days that I consider fun days as I get to go to the lab and work on the hardware.  I get to test the hardware and see that the designs and updates were a success.  If there is a problem I get to spend time figuring out what went wrong, and it’s always exciting when I find the answer to the problem.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I get to work and learn from experts in my field.  There is never a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new.

What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered about your field? 
The most surprising thing that I discovered is that sometimes the newest technologies are not the answer, but it can enhance older technologies.

What did you have to learn in order to do what you do?
Math, Science, and surprisingly English.  It’s important to understand the Math and Science, but it’s even more important to be able to express it to others.

What is one piece of advice you would give to girls about careers in STEM?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Just because a boy doesn’t ask it doesn’t mean he knows the answers.  He might be afraid to ask the question himself.  There is no such thing as stupid questions.  The only stupid questions are the one that are not asked.

What is something girls should know about STEM?
STEM is not scary and it’s limitless.

Were you a Girl Scout?
No I wasn’t.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Their mission is to be at the forefront of technology and innovation. ​


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