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NSWC Crane engineer uses STEM skillset to have fulfilling career

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Oct. 8, 2020

CRANE, Ind. – An NSWC Crane engineer uses her skillset in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to have a fulfilling career supporting sailors all over the world.

“I’ve always liked science and math. After researching fields in college, I was driven to engineering and I matched perfectly. I wanted to have a career where I could help people.”

Andrea Rodriguez, a Systems Engineer at NSWC Crane, didn’t know about Crane while attending college at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The Chicago native is a first generation college student and was interested in having a fulfilling career.

“I worked really hard for my degree and fell in love with the field,” says Rodriguez. “Many of my peers studying Systems Engineering were going into consulting, but I wanted to do something different. Crane had a recruitment event at my university and I wanted to use my technical skillset to help the warfighter.”

Rodriguez, who grew up in the third largest city in America, originally thought she wanted to spend her career in a metropolis.

“I started looking for jobs in the city,” says Rodriguez. “But being passionate about the mission was more important, and cities weren’t offering that for me. The three years I’ve spent at Crane have been great. There’s also a lot of opportunities to develop myself professionally, develop into a good leader, and develop as a person.”

Rodriguez has supported Maritime Electronic Warfare from both engineering and project management roles.

“We are the in-service engineering agent for Electronic Warfare Systems. We install the systems for the fleet on Navy ships and sustain them for 30 years. We ensure they are operational and sustained throughout their lifecycle. As an engineer, we are always improving our systems. We execute design changes and only focus on the technical performance of the system. Sometimes we have something great in mind, but it may not be feasible. Rarely do we ever stop to think about the programmatic impacts to the schedule and cost. Having the experience of understanding the business side makes you a better engineer because you see what will work for the customer.”

Rodriguez says one of the keys of success she has experienced is to ask questions.

“Engineers kind of get the stereotype of being perfectionists. That makes sense since we want our systems to be reliable because people’s lives depend on those systems. In order to achieve that, we need to be vulnerable and ask questions; it helps you learn. You don’t know everything. You also build trust with your team, and when you have a better team you have a better system.”

She says she goes to work because the job is important, even during the circumstances surrounding the global pandemic.

“Regardless of what is going on at work, sailors are still out there. The military is still out there; they need us. I have a cousin in the Navy. Knowing he can rely on our systems is why I do what I do. No matter what, we are still there for them so they can come home.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at crane_recruiting@navy.mil.