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NEWS | Sept. 23, 2020

Society of Women Engineers Honors Carderock’s Lisa Minnick

By Benjamin McKnight III, NSWCCD Public Affairs

The Society of Women Engineers is just one of many organizations to adjust plans for their annual conference in the wake of the spread of Coronavirus.

Normally, there is an awards banquet to honor the women making contributions to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) community. For this year’s conference, which is now a virtual event scheduled for the first two weeks of November, an employee of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division will be one of many women honored for their achievements in the engineering field.

Lisa Minnick, the Aft Project Officer in the Columbia-class Submarine Program Office and acting head of the Columbia-class Branch, was officially named a recipient of the 2020 SWE Emerging Leader Award. The 14-year Carderock veteran is being recognized for a series of technical achievements and community involvement contributions that demonstrate leadership. At every step of her progression with the command, Minnick’s superiors have made note of her commitment to the command’s improvement.

“I have known Lisa for many years and have worked with her on a continual basis to address numerous engineering challenges,” said Matthew King, Naval Sea System Command’s Hydrodynamics and Maneuvering Technical Warrant Holder for U.S. Navy Submarines. “Lisa is engaging, bright, positive and a true asset to the engineering community.”

As Aft Project Officer, Minnick has led a team in the design of the novel advanced propulsor bearing for the Columbia-class submarine. The program bounced back from a late start in the component’s development under Minnick’s leadership, and her establishment of baseline requirements and a baseline schedule for design and analysis helped make successful reorganization of the program’s effort. To ensure the necessary program design milestones were being reached in a timely manner, she also led the Columbia’s Critical Design Review process. Her expertise of the design resulted in a completion of the program’s Critical Design Review in April 2020, months ahead of the program’s scheduled October 2020 construction authorization.

“I’m honored to know that my colleagues took the time to even nominate me for it,” Minnick said. “It’s such a large award and on a national level, so I am a bit shell shocked, but also very humbled and appreciative.”

Minnick’s devotion to being a transformative leader reaches beyond her department. Throughout her career, she has contributed to a handful of mentorship programs for the next generation of STEM professionals. Some of those roles include serving as a SeaPerch mentor, a four-year stint as a First LEGO League mentor, and supporting the Maryland Math Engineering Science Achievement program. Upon joining the Carderock team in 2006, she was teamed up with Toby Ratcliffe, a then-senior engineer who Minnick said was the primary influence in her initial STEM outreach efforts. Ratcliffe has since retired, but her guidance to a young Minnick continues to manifest itself today as Minnick continues to present future generations of female STEM professionals the opportunities available to them.

“This award shows other women and young girls that may be interested in engineering that they can have a career and be a strong leader in the field,” Minnick said. “We all know that engineering is much more of a male-dominated field, and as you go up the leadership chain, the number of women is often small. It’s helpful for women and young girls to be able to hopefully relate to me and say, ‘Hey, she’s doing it, and I can too.’”

SWE was formed in 1950 and is recognized as “the world’s largest advocate and catalyst for change for women in science and technology,” with over 40,000 members worldwide. The organization aims to help women in the field reach their true potential as leaders and engineering professionals, expand the image of the engineering profession, and demonstrate the value of diversity. More information on SWE can be found at