Rocketing to Success

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Dakeesha Wright is a numbers person. A proposal manager for Hamilton Sundstrand, a company that designs and manufactures aerospace systems for commercial, regional, corporate, and military aircraft, Wright ’03 had an affinity for math and science at an early age.

I was always good in those subjects,” she says. “I got interested in engineering in high school after taking classes at a local college.”

Wright bucks the numbers trend for her profession. She was among 1,859 U.S. women—and one of only 123 African-American women—to earn a mechanical engineering degree in 2003. As of 2006, an estimated 1.4 million men worked in science and engineering fields compared to 187,000 women, including only 11,000 African-American women.

She joined Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, eventually becoming a senior systems engineer responsible for maintaining rocket engine systems. Her work focused on the RL10, the world’s highest performing, most reliable upper-stage rocket engine.

I worked with a machine that is used to power vehicles into space. Testing rocket engines is one of the coolest jobs to have!”

She traces her career successes to her undergraduate studies at UT Arlington. “Everything I accomplished at UTA I can relate to currently working in the field.”

Though a recent career move has her focusing more on the business end of things, Wright hopes to stay in engineering.

I wanted to get more into the inner workings of an organization, and this position gives me global insight into how we do business,” she says. “But I want to stay tied to engineering in some way. On the business side, I actually rely on my engineering background quite frequently.”

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