Workforce Feature: Joanne (Aquilino) Downs – Harris

Name:  Joanne (Aquilino) Downs
College:  Rochester Institute of Technology, BS
Field(s) of study:  Electrical Engineering
Position at Harris:  Project Engineer
Years at Harris:  9

What do you find exciting about your area of focus or your specific job at Harris?
The most exciting thing about my job is that every day is different.  I work on a variety of development projects, from radio software to networking products to batteries, chargers and antennas.  Each project presents its own challenges, pushing me to think outside the box to find a creative solution.  Many of the challenges are difficult, some are a constant struggle, but it is all part of the design process.  Learning from my failures not only keeps me on my toes, but gives me a sense of pride in my accomplishments.

Why do you think young adults should consider careers in STEM?
The opportunities are endless!  A degree in STEM sets you up for success and allows you the flexibility to grow in different ways.  STEM employers seek candidates with technical backgrounds to take a number of diverse paths; from developing talent within their current field to branching out into management roles.  My current job allows me to utilize my engineering degree within the project management field, which has been both exciting and rewarding.

What do you like to do outside of your work day?
The majority of my time is spent with my 1 year old daughter, Gianna.  I also enjoy volunteering with organizations both within my community and company.  During my first 5 years at Harris, I was the President of our Young Professionals employee resource group.  This allowed me the opportunity to lead a committee of peers, network with people I did not interface with regularly, and organize events to develop our group professionally and personally.

Anything else you’d like to provide that you think would encourage someone to consider a STEM career?
The customers we support in STEM fields, to name a few, are the military protecting our freedom, first responders, doctors and medical staff saving lives, researchers finding cures for cancer, and teachers who engage and shape our minds daily.  They are nothing short of amazing, and with our help in STEM careers, anything is possible.