Spark Award

Marla Peterson

Honeywell Aerospace

For visionary work promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion; for deep commitment as a mentor; and for sustaining an environment in which women engineers are seen, heard, and respected.

Marla Peterson is a senior technical manager at Honeywell Aerospace, leading a team that resolves production issues on the factory floor and creates engineering efficiencies. She joined Honeywell in 1983 and worked to develop analysis software for propulsion engines before moving into managing cross-functional productivity projects. Peterson built her product knowledge on engines and power systems, developing tools and processes. She earned Six Sigma black belt and lean master certifications, leveraging her teaching and mentoring skills. With these building blocks, Peterson advanced through numerous leadership positions, excelling in developing employees and streamlining processes.

Peterson has created meaningful change as a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She is a mentor to all who ask. Her drive stems from believing that all engineers should be heard, respected, and valued. Peterson represents Honeywell on the Society of Women Engineers Corporate Partnership Council and shares SWE opportunities and discussions with women across Honeywell’s four global businesses.

She is enthusiastic about finding diverse talent and is the Honeywell engineering diversity events program manager. Under her leadership, Honeywell has grown its hiring and engagement with SWE, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Grace Hopper Celebration, a conference for women in computing.

Peterson was a charter member of Honeywell’s Engineering Inclusion and Diversity Council. She is also co-founder of the Honeywell Women’s Employee Network (HWEN) and is an active member of the Aerospace Women’s Council and HWEN, each of which provides women engineers with networking, development, and mentoring opportunities. Peterson also co-chairs a HWEN group that matches mentees with mentors.

Peterson has been the Honeywell campus manager for The University of Arizona, her alma mater, for 40 years and serves on the university’s Systems and Industrial Engineering Advisory Council. She advises the dean’s office on technical opportunities and recruits twice yearly, hiring many students. Peterson lectures in the engineering senior colloquium class, sponsors and judges capstone projects, and sponsors awards for the best mechanical and software applied projects.

Peterson also serves on the Tau Beta Pi executive council board of directors. Her activities on the board include shaping the future of the engineering honor society and driving its image and marketing. She also mentors other members across several chapters.

Peterson received the SWE Advocating Women in Engineering Award in 2016. The University of Arizona awarded her its 2006 Bear Down Award for noteworthy service and dedication and named her the Systems and Industrial Engineering Alumna of the Year in 2019.

Peterson holds a B.S. in systems engineering from The University of Arizona. She resides in Phoenix, where she has raised two young men, and in her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.