Lisa Hardaway

Program Manager for Spacecraft and Science Instruments, Ball Aerospace, USA

Lisa Hardaway

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BS in Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT; MS in Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University; PhD in Aerospace Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder

 

I was a toddler when the Apollo spacecraft landed on the moon, but I remembered it clearly enough that the event inspired me to work toward a career in aerospace. The beauty and mystery of space has continued to stimulate my passion, and my family has supported me at every turn.

As an aerospace engineer, I’ve enjoyed the wide variety of projects. I have designed structural parts of the International Space Station and the F-18 Warfighter. I have been the technical lead for science instruments like an imaging camera on the Hubble Space Telescope and the highresolution color camera on New Horizons, NASA’s mission to Pluto. Each assignment has brought new tasks and learning opportunities.

Aerospace is still a male-dominant industry, which makes pursuing a professional career a challenge, rather than an obstacle. Women bring different, not weaker, views and opinions. It took me a long time to understand this and stand up for myself. Once I did, with facts to back up my thoughts, I was more respected and often sought after for ideas.

I wish there had been STEM opportunities and more women in science when I was young. This would have eased my career path into aerospace and helped me believe in my capabilities earlier. However, the support for women gets stronger each year. I try to bolster this with my mentoring and even my own daughter. One day we won’t say, “Lisa is a woman engineer.” Instead, we will simply say, “Lisa is an engineer.”

If you choose to pursue a STEM career, don’t let anyone negatively influence your choice. Believe in yourself and your capabilities. You are equally gifted with the ability to think, learn, and communicate. Be prepared to work hard to achieve your goals, but enjoy what you do. It will be a rewarding, wonderful experience. I have never regretted my career choice.

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