Navy and Lockheed Martin Volunteers Host 78 GetSET Girls for Tours


A meet and greet with members of the Navy, lunch with female engineer role models and tours highlighting small satellites, 3D printing and nanotechnology filled the schedule for 78 high school girls who visited two Lockheed Martin Bay Area facilities on Tuesday, June 24. Their visit was part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) GetSET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Summer Week conducted at Santa Clara University.

The girls started their day in Sunnyvale hosted by Space Systems Company (SSC) and the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs. More than 10 Navy personnel and five Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) employees volunteered to host the students, introducing them to the basics of how the Navy and Lockheed Martin partner to build the primary nuclear deterrent for the United States.

Next, Navy Lt. Lorna Mae Devera shared insightful advice about the obstacles she faced growing up. She had concerns about her ability to fund her education, but the Navy gave her opportunities. She also discussed the memorable women in the upper ranks of the Navy who inspired her to create her own career path.


Excitement grew during the prize portion of the event. Lt. Devera challenged the girls to demonstrate their leadership capabilities by sharing their personal career aspirations with the group. The girls stepped up to the challenge with some stating plans to study and pursue careers in chemical, bio-medical and aeronautical engineering.

After the keynote speaker, SSC systems engineer Marla Degner talked about her struggle to determine her college major and the efforts she took to pursue her master’s degrees. One take away was that not all engineers knew exactly what they wanted to be in high school. Maria Bahia, an electronics engineer for the Navy, discussed her experiences working for the Navy, and how she overcame inherent shyness through available leadership opportunities. 

Overall, the girls loved hearing the volunteers’ personal perspectives and having the opportunity to relate personally to female engineer role models. On their way out, the girls also participated in a meet and greet where they visited with members of the Navy who work on the submarines or manage components of the FBM program.

“[The meet and greet] was the best part of the morning,” said Amanda Foo, propulsion manager and GetSET tour coordinator. “The girls had direct access to people that can provide them insight and advice about their future. It was hard getting them to their next outing because there were so many great conversations going on!”


That afternoon, the girls travelled to STAR Labs in Palo Alto where they had lunch with guest speaker Lizzie Sargeant, a Lockheed Martin research science manager, who shared her experience as a female engineer, leader and working mother. Then the girls rotated through three presentations learning about some of the innovative technology being developed by Lockheed Martin’s STAR Labs.

Each tour lead shared their passion and knowledge on their topics during their demonstrations, which inspired the girls. Based on survey feedback, the tours went better than expected, and the girls were truly excited about what we do at our Research and Development facilities. More than 20 volunteers from the Navy, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company and STAR Labs gave their time to support the visit. I want to thank our volunteers who helped us,” said Alya Elhawary, research scientist and GetSET tour coordinator. “We couldn’t have made this possible without you, and we truly appreciate you taking the time of your day to make sure the girls have a great time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these girls back here one day, working as our own engineers and scientists!”

SWE GetSET Summer Week required over 500 volunteer hours during the program, and that does not include the time the workshop leaders and council invests in planning, grant writing and recruitment, which involved even more Lockheed Martin volunteers.

The participants are local high school students who completed an interview process and were selected to attend the SWE Santa Clara Valley Section Summer Week 2014 at Santa Clara University. This week-long camp included workshops and field trips, and the students are from under-represented ethnic groups in the fields of science, engineering and technology. The program encourages girls to go to college and study engineering.

“GetSET Summer Week for high school girls and other SWE STEM outreach activities have been truly amazing through the years, and we would not be successful without Lockheed Martin’s support,” said Jeannie David, project engineer and SWE GetSET council chair. 

“I am blown away by all of the interesting fields that go in-hand with engineering, like civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, etc.,” noted Irma Nazario, 2014 GetSET participant. “Being exposed to different types of engineering fields at GetSET sparked an interest in me to someday pursue a career in the field of engineering.” 

July 31, 2014