Rising Technical Contributor Award
For breadth and depth of expertise in metallurgy, materials, and failure analysis; and for critical thinking and follow-through skills that have significant businesswide impact.
Gail Fukumoto is a hardware engineer for the Honeywell Aerospace failure analysis lab in Clearwater, Florida. In her previous role as the metals lab work director for her site, she led teams of engineers and technicians to design and execute metals-related failure analyses and materials certifications for the site’s programs. Selected for her extensive research background, Fukumoto rocketed from entry-level engineer to technical lead on metallurgical projects in a matter of months. Her expertise in design of experiments, specification writing, and failure analysis, with an emphasis in metallurgy and printed board assembly processing, has had millions of dollars of impact and influenced production processes and root cause corrective action for Honeywell Aerospace. Fukumoto’s technical depth and ability to write cogent lab reports is sought after by Honeywell engineers around the world, and international customers seek her out for follow-up failure analyses and process recommendations.
Fukumoto played a key role in identifying the root cause in a hardware failure that would have delayed launches, with a potential for millions of dollars in losses. She independently identified the fracture mode of a component, laying the foundation for investigation and corrective action.
Fukumoto’s breadth of knowledge in materials and mechanical properties of hardware also enabled Honeywell to make a critical decision days before the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launch. She identified the mechanism behind a fracture in a connector’s solder joints before collaborating with a range of experts in multiple domains to help isolate the root cause of material failure. Fukumoto’s collaborative analysis both proved that there was an exceptionally low risk of the component’s failing in the field, and highlighted an opportunity to reexamine the glass transition temperature in future staking designs.
She also displayed a broad grasp of Pb-free solder metallurgy, organizational precedent, and space program contractual requirements, by co-authoring a Pb-free control plan with impact on all space programs at Clearwater and its potential for use at sites across the company. She completed this complex technical task only a year after her introduction to Pb-free metallurgy.
Fukumoto graduated with a B.S. in materials science and engineering from Purdue University. Her noteworthy research includes poster presentations on grain-grain interactions in lead zirconium titanate piezoelectric thin films, and a conference paper published with NASA Glenn Research Center on the efficacy of annealing selective, laser-melted inconel MA 754.
Outside of work, Fukumoto is president of the SWE Tampa Bay Section. She champions increased community engagement through mentoring, hosting outreach events, and speaking to collegiate sections. She encourages her collegiate mentees to find work/life balance by pursuing passion projects and is pursuing her own by taking weekend hiking trips and training daily for a full, 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon.