Emerging Leader

Vanessa Adams

Pratt & Whitney

For leadership and management skills that ensure military readiness; for modeling growth and development for young engineers; and for STEM outreach that will be felt for years to come.

Vanessa Adams is an associate director for the Mechanical Systems, Externals, and Nacelles (MSEN) Module Center for Pratt & Whitney’s Military Engine Sustainment Center, stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. In this role, she serves as manager and leader of a team of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) engineers located in Oklahoma and one MRO engineer located at Pratt & Whitney’s maintenance and test facility in Jupiter, Florida. Adams and her team provide engineering assistance to the U.S. Air Force during the overhaul and repair of Pratt & Whitney military engines, which power aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, F-22, C-17, E-3, and B-52.

One of Adams’s notable accomplishments with Pratt & Whitney occurred during her time as a senior logistics repair development engineer. In 2018, she facilitated multimillion-dollar savings by initiating hardware reviews and providing final disposition of assets to be sent for repair. Adams provided distress-mode analysis and characterization of unserviceable hardware across the F119 and F135 engine programs, which drove the identification of new repair needs. She also developed preliminary technical and logistics work scopes, performed cost/benefit analyses for engine hardware repairs, and solicited funding for developing those repairs.

With knowledge gained from this experience, Adams accepted a special project for which she provided key input for planning a new digital inspection software application that would reduce hardware inspection times, reduce data reporting variability, and establish a centralized location for inspection data. This app is now used not only by Pratt & Whitney’s MRO engineering team but also by new engine development projects at the company’s other engineering centers.

Adams has more than 10 years of experience in engineering leadership roles spanning several companies and disciplines, ranging from operations management for General Mills to manufacturing leadership at Raytheon Technologies, now RTX (Pratt & Whitney’s parent company), and customer support at Collins Aerospace. Although in her current role for just more than two years, Adams has been instrumental in growing her team’s size by three times to meet the U.S. Air Force’s increasing volume of engine overhaul and repair activities.

Adams is active within Pratt & Whitney and RTX as a mentor, coach, recruiter, and advocate for women in the technical community. She engages locally through Jack and Jill of America Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta’s Delta GEMS program, which encourages girls aged 14 to 18 to pursue and attain their dreams.

Adams’s impact on her community has been recognized with several awards, including Jack and Jill’s Philanthropic Mother of the Year in 2020; the Black Engineer of the Year Awards’ Science Spectrum Trailblazer in 2022; and the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP (science, technology, engineering, and production) Ahead Award in 2022. She is also one of Oklahoma City’s 100 Wildly Capable Women 2022 honorees.

Adams earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering at Mississippi State University and an M.S. in systems engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. She is married to Kendrick Adams, and they have two daughters.