Five Pratt & Whitney Employees Win 'Women in Manufacturing STEP Awards'

By Barbara Bresnahan | Correspondent
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., recently hosted the Manufacturing Institute's Women in Manufacturing STEP Awards dinner reception, where 160 honorees from more than 110 companies were recognized for their excellence and leadership, representing all levels of the manufacturing industry.

As president of the Pratt & Whitney Women's Council, Christine McGowan felt it was her duty to ensure the women at Pratt & Whitney were being recognized for their efforts. She led the effort to write and submit nominations with senior management. In the end, five women from Pratt & Whitney were chosen to be among those honored.

Monica Arias, a senior manufacturing engineer, is the only female in her position in the Hot Section Module Center. Pratt & Whitney Operations Manager Robert Jackson cited Arias for her ability to adapt and work with a wide range of personalities as well as for her confidence, professionalism and technical expertise. Leading projects to reduce costs, resolving top process issues and reducing process variation are but a few of the accomplishments that earned her an award.

Jonna Gerken, deputy CIPT leader, 30K Core, Hot Section Engineering, is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Board of Directors and the 2011 Pratt & Whitney Diversity & Inclusion Award recipient.

"I take great pride in being a role model to newer engineers, helping break down barriers in the industry and creating a more inclusive work environment," said Gerken.

Gerken was nominated by fellow and life member of SWE, Wendy Landwehr.

"Jonna has built a career on being at the forefront of new product development. Her engineering innovativeness and leadership skills have resulted in improved efficiencies, enhanced client satisfaction and reduced waste," said Landwehr. "Jonna has worked with teams to create and test prototypes, which ultimately led to the development of technology that was instrumental in next generation product designs. She also led the organization to ACE Gold certification."

Meggan Harris has been successful in the area of cost reduction. As a design manager in Hot Section Engineering, Harris leads by example and is seen as a resource on how to assess, analyze and apply data to business development, noted George Titterton, deputy director of Hot Section Engineering.

"The ability of our nation to produce quality products affordably is what will keep us competitive in the global marketplace," said Harris.

"As an engineer who has had the chance to participate in every phase of the integrated product development process, Meggan is keenly aware of the challenges involved and continually strives for a deeper level of understanding and competency that she believes will ultimately lead to smoother, more effective processes," said Titterton.

Caitlin Oswald was nominated for her leadership in additive manufacturing.

"Caitlin is on the leading edge of innovation at Pratt & Whitney as she directs a team that is advancing the technology progression of Electron Beam Melting (EBM), a metal powder bed additive manufacturing technique," he said. "As integrated product team lead, Caitlin is responsible for integrating projects, from material characterization to process capability, to new design and performance innovations."

"When peers outside of Pratt & Whitney discover I'm working in additive manufacturing, their reaction has a spark of excitement," said Oswald. "... [I] receive encouragement not only inside my company, but externally too. I love that large companies and hobby 3Ders can stand together."

Ruthanne Szumski, who is an export compliance manager, earned the STEP award due to her relentless devotion to world-class quality and processes through increasing efficiency, reducing waste and valuing skilled employees.

"Ruthanne supports manufacturing excellence in the development and execution of innovating machining processes to deliver critical components to Pratt & Whitney's revolutionary NGPF product line," said Women's Council President McGowan.

"To have a successful career in manufacturing, listen first, then say, then do what you said, and keep listening," explained Szumski. "Manufacturing is a series of interactions with people and technology. Execution of a new concept is never perfect. Success is in the ability to correct and to engage others in the endeavor."

For more information about these award recipients as well as Women in Manufacturing and their initiatives to attract, retain and advance female talent, visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/initiatives/women-in-manufacturing.