STEM Professional of the week

Veronica Garcia      
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

As a Deputy Program Manager, Veronica Garcia serves as the lead responsible for defining the overall strategy and approach that will ensure successful organization change readiness for a new enterprise-wide multi-million dollar initiative. Her current role is just the latest challenge in a career at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) that has provided her with unique experiences and invaluable lessons.

Few have the privilege of saying they directly contributed to human space exploration along with some of the world’s greatest engineers and scientists. When she arrived at PWR, she was initially assigned to the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) systems team responsible for post ground test and flight data analysis, anomaly investigation, pre-flight engine performance predictions, leading special projects, and high frequency data processing. She distinguished herself immediately through her outstanding analysis on this project, one of the most sophisticated pieces of engineering in the world. Demonstrating a deep understanding of engineering principles and how to apply those principles to forecast engine performance, her accurate trusted flight predictions proved critical to crew safety and the success of each Shuttle mission. She was recognized with several prestigious awards including a NASA Space Flight Awareness award, one of the highest honors presented to employees for their dedication to quality work and flight safety.

Ms. Garcia’s skill and leadership have been recognized company- wide. She is just one of a handful of employees who the PWR executive leadership committee regularly discusses as a high potential leader it must ensure has a continual variety of challenging assignments and opportunities. Leadership fully expects Veronica to continue to advance through the company quickly and successfully and they are working to ensure that they help her meet that goal.

The third of five children born and raised in a working class suburb in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Ms. Garcia was raised by parents who emigrated from Mexico with only a 3rd grade education. Determined to provide their children with a better life, they placed a very high emphasis on education, creating a continuous learning environment at home, even during summer vacations. Despite excelling at school and being selected class valedictorian her senior year, she remained unsure about her future. Only after a visiting high school alum studying at MIT encouraged her to apply to the prestigious institution did a future in STEM seem a likely possibility. Applying to MIT was only one obstacle. Though ultimately accepted, she needed the help of school counselors to convince her parents to let their daughter move across the country.

After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, Ms. Garcia moved back to California to enroll in graduate school at Stanford University, where she completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Throughout her schooling she tutored fellow students and even established a Saturday math and science tutoring program at her high school run entirely by volunteers. Veronica is also a champion for the Adelante Mujer Latina conference and serves as a frequent keynote speaker. She and her husband are heavily involved in their church and frequently advise families on college opportunities for their children.

Ms. Garcia has a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of science degree from Stanford University – both in mechanical engineering.

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