Young A&D Professional: Sarah Olsem

Senior Systems Engineer
Rockwell Collins, 8 years
B.A., Wartburg College, Mathematics,
M.S., Purdue University, Engineering Management

What do you find exciting about your area of focus or your specific job at Rockwell Collins?

I have the privilege of developing new technologies for our military GPS products, which not only builds upon a long-standing history of excellence, but also provides increased safety and security features. I love being on the cutting edge of this technology and also putting into perspective how the work that I do every day has a direct impact on keeping our warfighters safe.

When did you first decide to take STEM courses and/or pursue a career in engineering? Who was most influential in your decision making?

I entered college undecided as to a major or field of study. My adviser and other faculty members at Wartburg encouraged me to take a strong base of math and physics courses along with the essential education curriculum. The faculty also opened my eyes to the incredible potential a mathematics degree has in many fields. I was particularly drawn to engineering as a great way to apply the math and problem solving skills I had learned during my college career to solve real world problems.

Why do you think young adults should consider careers in STEM?

Careers in STEM are constantly evolving. There are always new problems to solve and there never is one right way to approach them. If you are interested in being constantly challenged to innovate and value seeing the work you do make a difference to others around you, a STEM career is perfect for you!

Anything else you’d like to provide that you think would encourage someone to consider a STEM career? Any advice to young students wanting to pursue a career in engineering and enter the aerospace industry?

As I entered college, I never imagined how far my mathematics degree could take me. Never doubt that you can apply your STEM degree to any career that peaks your interest. Keep an open mind, be willing to take risks and remember that your problem-solving skills are what make you a valuable asset in any career you enter.