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Professional Life

2017 BEYA Winner for Outstanding Technical Contribution Knows How to Juggle Graduate School, a Career and a Family
By Lango Deen
Jan 30, 2017 - 8:47:47 AM

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According to a US News report, almost one-third of graduate students are also raising families. Raytheon's Dr. Yolanda Mack, the 2017 Black Engineer of the Year nominee for the Outstanding Technical Contribution Award, says her graduate experience taught her to accomplish more in less time.

While Yolanda Mack was in high school, she said she would one day like to work as an engineer in a large business or with the NASA space program.

With both parents serving in the United States Air Force, Yolanda lived in several cities across America and Japan.

Throughout high school in Oklahoma, she had a perfect 4.0 GPA and was a member of the state Honor Society Junior Engineering and Technology Society. Yolanda also played varsity basketball for two years and was a runner-up in the Miss Altus pageant. She earned lots of awards, including the Texaco Foundation Scholarship, and the National Achievement Scholarship.

In 2002, she earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida.

When deciding to go to graduate school, Yolanda had the added challenge of raising a child. The experience taught her to accomplish more in less time. Fittingly, her graduate work focused on topics including optimization and efficient data analysis techniques.

During her graduate career, she worked directly with NASA on the design and optimization of a radial turbine for an expander cycle rocket motor engine, and on the design and sensitivity evaluation of a liquid rocket motor engine inlet.

She received a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 2004 and her Doctor of Philosophy in aerospace engineering in 2007 from the University of Florida, specializing in computational fluid dynamics-based optimization. During her graduate career, Yolanda was also named as an Amelia Earhart Fellow for 2006.

Yolanda began working at Raytheon in August 2007, a week after receiving her Ph.D. She has been with Raytheon for nine years. Dr.  Mack is the 2017 Black Engineer of the Year nominee for the Outstanding Technical Contribution Award.

TECHNICAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Dr. Yolanda Mack has made several outstanding technical contributions in aerodynamics, informatics, navigations, control, and simulations during her 9-years at Raytheon Missile Systems.

One of her technical innovations has helped improve the performance and reliability of several United States Missile Defense Agency products. She was selected from more than 5500 engineers to be Simulation Technical Authority for a major Missile Defense Agency program.

A recognized expert in informatics techniques, Dr. Mack has authored and presented materials in multi-disciplinary optimization, efficient global optimization, and design of experiments.

What She's Working On Now: Dr. Mack is developing a complex simulation to provide pre-mission testing that verifies embedded software algorithm performance in preparation for flight tests.

GIVING BACK: Dr. Mack mentors and trains junior engineers at Raytheon. Her engineering capabilities have earned her the respect of her peers.

According to HBCU services to look for in a family-friendly graduate school include:

-Paid maternity leave

-Childcare support
-Mortgage assistance
-Health insurance
-Family friendly campus housing
-Family resource center

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