Young A&D Professional: Tonia Dinh

Process Engineer
The Boeing Company, 3 Years
B. S. Weber State University
M.S. Purdue University

When did you first decide to take STEM courses and/or pursue a career in engineering?

Science, Math and Technology have been my interest since I was young. I was always curious to know how things work, how they were put together and/or how technologies have become an essential part of our lives. Moreover, I have always done well in math and science in school which made enjoying the subjects easier.

My first STEM classes were in middle school where I built bridges, competed in the robot combat challenge and designed and built miniature machines and buildings from CAD models. Those early STEM courses gave me real-world engineering experience, team work and problem- solving skills. It led me to be more involved with careers in science, engineering and technology areas. I am grateful for all the people who worked hard to bring STEM education to me and many others.

Who was most influential in your decision making?

My parents played an important role in my career decisions. They had a strong interest in mathematics and encouraged me once they learned I was good with numbers. My parents believed in higher education and worked hard to put my siblings and me through college. I could not have made it without their support.

What do you do in your job?

My job at Boeing takes place in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) area. PLM is not a traditional engineering area; however, it plays an important aspect of the product development process. As part of the PLM team, we build a holistic framework to help connect, organize, control, manage, track, consolidate and centralize all critical information on each part of the product. Process and tools are the essential elements of PLM. We design the process using the available tools and we build the tools to support the process.

Why do you like your job?

Product Lifecycle Management is a challenging and exciting career path. To create an effective PLM solution, I get to collaborate with all supply chain team members and facilitate the sharing of data across all phases of the production lifecycle. The more complicated the requirements, the more people get involved. I have learned how to read, listen, and be patient with members of my team. A career with PLM is a continual learning experience.

Any advice to young students wanting to pursue a career in engineering and enter the aerospace industry?

Although I have always enjoyed math and science, it was difficult to complete a degree in the engineering, science and technology areas. I was on top of my academic workflow, but it was difficult to give other aspects of my life equal weight. Others might experience this differently. In short, majors in STEM areas can be very difficult to many of us, and unfortunately many people don’t realize this. Despite the difficulties, do not get discouraged and doubt yourself.  You can learn and relearn. Engineer your difficulties, think trial and error, repeat the attempt to solve your problems. That is what makes you an engineer.

A relevant fun fact:

I overcame my fear of heights by learning how to be a rock climber. I have passed my lead test for Sport Climbing and look forward to this exciting experience.