A Day in the Life – Julie
What is your title? Describe what you do.
I am considered a Functional Analyst (SME). I am formally trained in Electrical Engineering with a focus in Systems Engineering (SE). I think of an SE as a “jack of all trades.” We have to understand a system at the highest level and how subsystems fit into the picture. Then we have to understand it’s development from cradle to grave. Therefore, I get to work on all aspects of a systems lifecycle. Currently, I am supporting the requirements development of a software redesign project. I’ve also had the opportunity to model systems, run operator software trials, perform software suitability assessments, and support the stand up of an operator working group.
What drew you to CSCI? Why did you choose to work here? How was the switch for you?
There were several things that drew me to CSCI. First, and foremost, it was the people. I knew Lance Hoyt and Summer Friedrich working on the JSF team here at CSCI and I was really motivated to work with them. They are both the kind of people who create a high functioning team dynamic that values providing quality work to the customer while maintaining a fun and inclusive environment to share ideas. I also really appreciated that the company strives to hire quality people that fit both the position and team dynamic. So, I knew that I would get to work with some outstanding teammates as the team expanded.
Second, I wanted to feel like I was making a positive impact to help the warfighter. Previously I was part of a large corporate environment that focused on profit. This made it difficult to balance the goals of the company with the warfighter need. Working on this team allows me to do the kind of work that I love while making sure that the government customer is getting a system that will help defend our country.
Finally, I wanted to work from home. My team has been one of CSCI’s pilot work from home teams and I think we have been able to help test and move the technology forward to support this way of business. It’s been challenging and rewarding!
The transition was seamless. I was able to join a team that was working in my area of expertise, so I was able to jump right in and feel productive.
What makes CSCI different than your previous workplaces?
Make It Happen. It’s not just our motto, it’s truly how we approach everything. Just as the software development world moves to Agile development, so does our support for the customer. Specifically, I get to be part of a lean, agile team that allows us to adjust how we approach our tasking. We have so much input and leeway into how we support the customer, I think it makes what we do invaluable. I cannot think of a time in the last 8 years that I have worked here that I have heard the words “no, we can’t do that.” We just “Make It Happen.”
What do you like best about working at CSCI?
I work with incredibly motivated and self-sustaining people. Everyone does their part, and we all cross cover for each other when we can’t be available. There’s really nothing better than being part of a great team.
What is an example of a success story you have had at CSCI? How did you achieve success on that project or endeavor?
When I first joined the team, we were heavily focused on system level modeling. Our customer was forward thinking and understood the need to break down complex systems for all levels of consumers (mangers to development engineers). Because of that, we developed a complete model using a range of accepted methods to represent a software system as it relates to the greater air system. Fast forward 6 or 7 years and the DoD has made Model Based Systems Engineering a cornerstone for developing software requirements and systems. Our customer has been able to hit the ground running with the model we created, giving our program and system a huge jump-start in future contracts and development.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a role like yours? Are there specific character traits or skills/certifications someone should possess?
Given the current DoD environment, I would recommend new SE’s become proficient in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Systems Modeling Language (SysML) with a focus on Software Systems. Having said that, there are certain soft skills that play a critical role in a successful SE. First, it is important to have the ability to see the bigger picture when it comes to systems. I like to think of it as trying to solve a puzzle, but you don’t have the box to look at. It’s also imperative to have impeccable communication skills. SE’s spend much of their time acting as a liaison to different teams to try and solve issues. So, you need to be able to understand complex ideas, translate them to a simplified version, and then explain them to someone who doesn’t have an extensive background in the content.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Knowing that I am working to make life a little easier for those who defend us every day.
What’s on your playlist when you’re focusing on a project at work and when you travel?
I LOVE music and live concerts, so my playlist can vary quite a bit by who I have queued up in my concert list. But my go-to artists are Eric Church and P!nk. Different genres but both with a little bit of rebellious side, a great rockin’ sound, and incredible storytellers in their own right.