STEM Professional of the week

Patricia C. Kirkham      

Patricia Kirkham is the fourth of five children born in Seattle, Washington to a Mexican/American mother and an Irish/American father. With a passion for travel and writing that has remained with her all her life, Patricia took advantage of high school foreign exchange programs that would take her to Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. This passion for learning in travel continued during college. It was after a summer internship with a News company when her interest in writing as a career wavered that she began exploring other disciplines. Curious about understanding how things work, she found herself fascinated with Chemistry and the possibilities that manifest while figuring out how to blend, alter and optimize the functioning of various resources. That curiosity and fascination let Patricia to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering, which she earned from the University of Washington.

In her early career as a Chemical Engineer, Patricia worked in a paper mill, an aluminum smelter and a semiconductor fabrication plant. Thriving in roles of process management and optimization, she understood the impact that communication played on the achievement of technical goals. Reaching back to her prior interests and experiences she developed handbooks and interactive programs to describe the engineering design processes. This led her to pursue a Master's in Human Centered Design Engineering/Technical Communication also at the University of Washington.

After completing her master's in 2004, Patricia began her work with the Department of the Navy. Over the years in her employment with the Navy and the Defense Contract Management Agency she has worked as an Engineer, Program Integrator and Manager. Patricia joined NAVSEA in 2009, as the Torpedo Production Acceptance Manager and is a key member of a multi-organizational weapons team.

Regarded as a "remarkable" person, with the highest level of technical competence and professionalism, Patricia ensures that contractors deliver what they are told to deliver in the best interest of the defense of the Nation. During her time working with NAVSEA she has reviewed and initiated several corrective actions that turned around the struggling production and delivery of a much needed torpedo arsenal for the U.S. Navy warfighters. Today, with her superb leadership and out-of-the-box thinking, the U.S. Navy has more than 300 of these critical weapons in its arsenal.

Patricia and her husband live in Washington with two wonderful daughters. Patricia is an avid women's triathlon competitor, "sister" to two women in the Woman for Women International organization, which assists women in war zones rebuild their lives. Never one to forsake a passion, she also volunteers at the local farmer’s market, and has been the host mother to four foreign exchange students.

View More Professionals of the Week