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STEMedia Interviews: Maira Garcia

When Maira Garcia was younger, she used to go cloud watching with her dad. Laying back on the cool grass watching the clouds would eventually lead her to the path of her truest success. Whenever she would see a plane the excited that filled her was noticeable and instantons prompting her father to ask the obvious. “Do you like planes?” Who would have thought such a common question would lead to a career path? It wasn’t until high school that she first heard of engineering and put together that she could combine her interest of airplanes and math through aerospace engineering.  She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in the subject and now works at Honeywell as a systems engineer on a turbofan engine.

Maira’s enthusiasm also extends into community service and involvement.  She is the president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Phoenix (SHPE) section, a board member of Collectivo, a group created to fill the gap of networking events among Latino marketing and communication professionals in Phoenix, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Phoenix and Honeywell liaison to the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University SWE section, SHPE Phoenix and Honeywell liaison to the Arizona State University SHPE section, member of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and an adviser to STEM outreach programs for Arizona State University and Peoria Unified School District.  She also holds a variety of volunteer positions within Honeywell, including Industry Partnership Council (IPC) SHPE Coordination Lead for Honeywell.  Maira also is involved in Big Sisters and Big Brothers, mentoring and encouraging an eleven-year-old girl future lawyer.

Maira is very passionate about the work, volunteering, and her overall life.  While in college, she started a bucket list; goals to achieve before she graduated.  Her bucket list has grown over the years to include travel, adventures, work, eating, volunteering and all the good things in life.  A friend encouraged Maira to start blogging about her passion for life and Enthusiastic About Life “Enthusiastic About Life” was born.

Below is Part 1 of my interview on Maira’s career and life— her enthusiasm about both is contagious!  Check it out and see!

Part 1

Suzie:  Describe to me, and the readers, what you do as an engineer.

Maira: I currently work as a control-systems engineer to support development and testing of the HTF7000 engine (Honeywell turbofan engine).  My duties include providing control system support as necessary for all engine and flight testing, improving the quality and reliability of the engine control system and its components, and [reviewing] software logic design to determine testing necessary for development and certification.

Suzie: What do you like best about engineering?

Maira: My favorite thing about engineering is the fact that it is all about critical thinking. You are given a problem, and it is up to you as an engineer to determine a solution with the info (which may be limiting) you are given. I love that engineers make such a difference to the world.  We work on incredible systems that help people every single day: from cell phones that allow us to communicate with each other, airplanes that allow us to travel and see the world, and medical devices that save lives. I definitely brag about my job, without actually meaning to. It’s just sometimes difficult to be passionate and not brag… One thing that I always mention when talking to students about how cool my job is, is the fact that I go on flight tests for work. I have spent days as a passenger in a regional jet where the aircraft is doing intense maneuvers to ensure that the software we put on the plane is safe. I also get the opportunity to work with such intelligent people every single day. I get to work alongside engineers who have more than 30 years of experience my field, who are experts, and who are still so passionate as the day they started. Talking and working with these people gets me excited and makes me excited to go to work every day.

Suize: What is the hardest part of your engineering job?

Maira: The hardest part of my job, but also the most exciting, is the fact that engine controls and flight controls are complex systems. The hardest part is that sometimes the complexity is way above my head, and I have to sit down and really think about my next steps. The hardest part is finding solutions to problems, but that also makes it the most exciting thing because when I don’t have the answer to something, I am able to set up a meeting with someone who is an expert and learn something new, every day.  For a little while, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the technical or business track at work, but then I talked to an Engineering Fellow [from Honeywell] about how fun it is to find a solution to a problem.  Engineering is what I love, so I’m going to pursue the technical track and pursue my master’s degree in engineering.  If my job was not a challenge, then I might end up too comfortable or bored.  I enjoy the challenge and finding a solution to a problem; there’s always a solution.

To learn more about Maira, please come back tomorrow for part 2! Interested in more STEM All Stars? Click here to read Suzie’s interview of Mindy Wilson!


This piece comes to us from one of our amazing community members and content volunteers, Suzie Olsen. Her bio is below, be sure to check out her awesome website and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

Suzie Olsen is a Staff Systems Engineer in Phoenix, AZ. When she is not busy building and maintaining the search and rescue system for the US Coast Guard, she is performing science experiments and engineering design projects with K-12 students. To encourage all students in science, technology, engineering and math,she has written the book “Annie Aardvark, Mathematician.” You can learn more about Suzie here!

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