Rising Technical Contributor Award

Alexandra Damley-Strnad

Northrop Grumman Corporation

For a commitment to growing future talent by mentoring and sponsoring STEM events; for technical and community-based contributions; and for using her experience to find novel approaches to technical challenges.

Alexandra Damley-Strnad is a senior principal systems engineer at Northrop Grumman. Her technical focus is on jointly identifying, designing, and executing the next generation of disruptive airborne/maritime sensors and autonomous platforms with her customers to benefit the U.S. and its allies. Based in Baltimore, Damley-Strnad is part of Northrop Grumman’s Future Technical Leaders (FTL), a three-year program for exceptional entry-level engineers with advanced degrees and leadership potential.

To seize this opportunity, Damley-Strnad interrupted her doctoral studies, wrapped up her research publication manuscripts, and completed a master’s in aerospace engineering. She joined the FTL program as a systems engineer in San Diego, where she supported the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program as the responsible engineer and customer interface for cross-integrated product team change requests. She led her team to implement critical hardware and software design changes, which contributed to the successful delivery of a Production IFC-4 Triton UAV, which met the Navy’s critical maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting needs.

Now in her third year in FTL, Damley-Strnad serves as a senior principal systems engineer in Northrop Grumman’s Maritime/Land Systems and Sensors Division in Linthicum, Maryland. She leads the technical area for sensor/effects and robotics-related surface and undersea efforts.

Within her short tenure with Northrop Grumman, Damley-Strnad has consistently taken on individual technical challenges and engineering leadership positions that would be considered major achievements for engineers with 10 years or more of experience. She has been able to accomplish this in areas outside of her core academic background in aerospace engineering.

Her technical interests were stirred by her youth engagement in community-serving tech projects and enthusiasm for competitive sailing. Skippering a boat and co-founding a technology startup in high school inspired her to study engineering, gravitating toward aerospace.

Her startup, Arrive LLC, is the result of the 2013 Technovation Challenge, a competition encouraging high school girls to consider STEM careers. Participants submitted a design for an application to solve a problem in their communities. Noting that technology could improve the efficiency of her school’s attendance system and enhance student security, Damley-Strnad pitched the idea to a group of multiracial female classmates. Together they designed a mobile application paired with a door-mounted robot to unlock the school door. Her team won first place and $10,000.

Engaged with the Society of Women Engineers since university, Damley-Strnad supports its mission by offering insight and guidance to high school students contemplating the start of their professional STEM journeys. She recently served as a panelist at the Maryland STEM Career Fair for Girls, with some 2,000 girls in attendance.

Damley-Strnad earned a B.S. and M.S. in aerospace engineering at the University of Miami and the University of Michigan, respectively. She also holds a Six Sigma green belt. Having represented Canada in sailing at the 2015 Pan American Games, her love for the outdoors and traveling takes her outside her comfort zone. When not on a plane or boat, she loves to ski, bike, and read.