We are honored to feature a Lieutenant in the US Army on our blog. There are many routes to pursuing a career in STEM and the armed forces and the military training schools are a great way to receive an engineering education and hands on experience that can translate later into a successful civilian career. Let’s learn more about this trailblazing and bold woman and what advice she has for girls entering STEM careers.

 

What do you do?

I am a First Lieutenant in the US Army. I serve as an Air Defender, more specifically as a Tactical Director who is in charge of the Fire Direction Center of a Patriot Missile Battalion. I advise the battalion operations officer and commander on Patriot Missile Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, along with creating the defense design for our area of operations. Along with these duties, I am responsible for the welfare of 18 Soldiers, 2 officers, and over 30 million dollars worth of equipment.

What is your typical day like at work?

I am currently forward deployed to an operational environment. Our battalion’s mission is to protect a city from Tactical Ballistic Missiles if they happen to have an impact point on a city of over 1.4 million people. I am one of three Tactical Directors who serves on a crew and pulls shift daily. I have an assistant (usually a sergeant) and a communications operator(usually a lower-enlisted Soldier). As a Tactical Director on shift, I am the battalion’s command and control element for two Patriot firing batteries. Each Battery contains multi-million dollar missiles that are ready to be fired at a moment’s notice. These missiles are capable of engaging aircraft, short-range tactical ballistic missiles, and many other types of air frames that can be considered a threat. Through my scope, I can see what each firing battery’s radar is tracking, and it is my responsibility to make sure that all air tracks are being de-conflicted with the air force. I do this by evaluating kinematics of air frames, and provide recommendations to higher echelon on our system’s capabilities and limitations. In an instance where an engagement command is passed down to our battalion, it is my responsibility to make sure the firing batteries are executing the engagements properly without risk to friendly or civilian aircraft.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from West Point in 2012 with a B.S. in Russian/Minor in Terrorism Studies. While my major is in the humanities, I was required to take many STEM classes. Some of these classes were: Derivative and Integral Calculus, Calculus-based Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Information Technology, Programming, and an engineering track focused on Environmental Engineering.

What led you into your career field?

I enjoy a challenge. Being able to work with a highly technical and powerful weapon system is a great and rewarding responsibility.

What advice do you have for high school girls?

Work hard in school and study, study, study. This is one time in your life you cannot repeat. After you work hard in school, you will have many opportunities available, and with that, a lifetime of fun afterwards.

What advice do you have for parents who want to raise STEM inclined girls?

In school, have them enroll in the most challenging classes they have to offer. Enroll in AP and college prep classes and take the corresponding exams. If your school district has an advanced STEM center, have them apply for admission.

Who was your greatest mentor growing up? Who is your greatest mentor now?

I never had a specific mentor, but anyone who was successful for the right reasons. Women who worked hard, became highly educated, and became great contributors to society were usually the ones I looked up to.

Why do you think there is a need for a site like STEM Girl Social Network so girls can connect with young women with similar interests and see mentors they can relate to in STEM fields

Even though society is becoming more supportive of women exploring STEM fields, there still might be some young women who feel that this field is intimidating for them. This, of course, should not be the case and a social networking group focused in this area serves as a good foundation for building confidence amongst these young women.

First Lietenant Noelle A. Kerr

by Miesha Jihan time to read: 3 min
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