A Day in the Life of a Gaucho at Northrop Grumman

noc_logo-blue-220x38Name: Tony Long

Major at UCSB: Electrical Engineering

Date of graduation: MSEE – June 2003

Current Job Title at Northrop Grumman: – RF Microwave Design Engineer and FabLab Manger

What motivated you to work at Northrop Grumman?
I’ve always been interested in microwave circuit and system design. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems is one of the best and provided me with lots of valuable mentors.

Give us a snapshot of a typical work day.
My days alternate between two jobs depending on priorities. Some days I will be at our FabLab teaching others how to use our array of tools, fixing a 3D printer, or helping someone develop a prototype for a new product. I also spend a good amount of my day communicating with others, both inside and outside the company to bring in new capabilities or plan the next hackathon.

Other days I’ll be working on microwave design, using CAD and simulation tools, and working with internal and external partners to get our cutting edge Gallium Nitride semiconductors into new markets. A bit of engineering, a bit of business. I like it!

What were the 3 most important things you did during you application process to help you land the job?
1. I got to know the company and technologies I would be working with. Getting into an interview well prepared allowed me to ask informed questions which shows that one is motivated and self-guided. A lot of what makes a successful engineer is learning what is important and what is not, and who to go to for answers and help.
2. Networking! I moved from one department to another a few years ago because of a recommendation by a UCSB EE professor. Whatever industry you enter, the network of people is not all that huge and getting to know people is important. Don’t be afraid to approach people in the industry directly. Have some kinds of interesting questions for them to engage them, and very quickly your network will grow. LinkedIn has made this easier than ever, but other methods work too.
3. Practical experience. Every job, from basic research to final testing of consumer products requires practical capabilities. Being able to show your practical abilities helps on resumes.

What experience helped you prepare the most for this job?
By far the most important experience I have had (outside of school) has been the practical experience I’ve gained from a lifelong electronics hobby. School does a very good job of teaching theory, and through lab courses, a bit of practical application. However there simply is not enough time in school to teach practical knowledge that is critical to making actual things. Most engineers are in some way involved with creating something. It is crucial to understand first hand, the techniques for fabrication, the relationship between engineering disciplines, and limitations of what can be done. Actually making things on your own is the best way to learn this. So go get your ham radio license (UCSB has a ham radio club to help with this), get into robotics, or start building SOMETHING. Bringing real hardware you’ve built into an interview will impress everyone and is a great conversation topic!

Looking back on undergrad, is there anything you would have done differently to prepare for your career?
I would try to meet more professionals and develop a bigger professional network both inside and outside my major.

What is your advice to students interested in similar positions?
1. Start making things on your own
2. Build a solid network of people inside and outside your major
3. Learn the basics very well.
4. Learn problem solving and how to get your brain to think critically.
5. Study art.

To find out more about the opportunities at Northrop Grumman, visit: http://www.northropgrumman.com/Careers/StudentsAndNewGrads/Pages/default.aspx