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Gillian Werner

NASA Kennedy Space Center

Bachelor of Science

What is your position now? How long have you been in this role?

I have worked for Lockheed Martin since I graduated from UCF in 2018, and I am in their Engineering Leadership Development Program. I rotate job responsibilities as a part of that program, so I’ve done mechanical engineering design, production engineering, electrical engineering design, structural analysis, and now I’m doing program management. I’ve been in my program management role for about eight months.

What are your main responsibilities?

As program manager for one of our rotary wing aircraft, I lead a cross-functional team through various projects on the platform as we design, produce/procure, and install new systems. I also manage our proposal efforts for new projects related to my platform area and manage our budgets and schedules.

What do you consider your proudest professional/career accomplishment so far?

Getting into the ELDP is something I’m proud of and being a program lead was an awesome experience!

What’s on the horizon for you? What aspirations do you still want to achieve?

As I graduate from the ELDP, I will likely stay in my program management role to continue to grow my platform area and set it up for long term success. I’d like to eventually step into more of a management/leadership role where I have the opportunity to impact my company’s culture and the way we approach our work. I’ve studied engineering management and the future of our workforce as part of my master’s program, and I’d love to help put some of those theories into practice!

How did UCF prepare you for your career?

UCF prepared me for my career through the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2), which helped me combine my passion for leadership with my passion for engineering. Eli2 helped me build up the soft skills I needed to succeed in my early career and connected me with mentors who helped guide me to where I am today.

What is one of your fondest (or craziest) memories from your student days at UCF?

I really enjoyed participating in AIAA’s design build fly competition and eventually leveraged that experience to build an aircraft with solar cells on its wings for senior design. Applying knowledge from my courses to a real-world project and seeing things I designed and built take flight was an awesome experience! The student clubs at UCF are all great, and I highly recommend getting involved in any of their projects or events!

Describe a moment that you felt particularly proud to be a UCF Knight?

I am always proud to be a Knight! I’ve especially appreciated UCF’s efforts to connect alumni with current students through mentoring programs like the eli2 development circles to help build the UCF community and provide current students with the best opportunities possible.

Who was one of your favorite (or most memorable) UCF professors and what would you say to that professor today?

The most memorable person from my time at UCF was Kate Hurt, the assistant director for the eli2 program. I interacted with her frequently through my involvement in eli2 and still keep in touch with her today. It was clear to me from the start how much she cares about the students she works with and how much she wants them all to succeed, and she’s been an excellent mentor me for both personally and professionally. She puts a ton of time and effort into the eli2 program to ensure students have the best experience possible, and the eli2 program would not be where it is today without her involvement. Thank you, Kate, for helping motivate me throughout my time at UCF and for being a great role model for eli2 students!

Have you stayed in close contact with any of your fellow Knights?

Absolutely! The people I met at UCF are some of my best friends today. Many of us are now engineers spread across the country and even overseas, and we still keep in touch regularly!

What would you say to a prospective student who is considering UCF to study engineering/computer science?

UCF is a great place to study engineering because of the opportunities that its students have access to – they can study abroad, work on real-world projects through student clubs, and build up their skillset through programs like eli2. There are a ton of different things to get involved in on campus, and those groups/activities will help build up your engineering skillset and make sure you have a great experience throughout your engineering education!