Caeley Looney – L3Harris Technologies: Passion for Space

Where do you work and your role title?
L3Harris Technologies – Mission Analyst
Reinvented Magazine – Founder & Editor in Chief

Get To Know Me
Favourite ice-cream flavour: Chocolate with marshmallows!

Wrap up in the shortest sentence possible what your role means.

I’m the girl that makes sure satellites work once they’re in space. πŸ›°

What is the interesting / challenging part of your work?

I work especially on my company’s small satellites, and being a Mission Analyst allows me to see the ‘big picture.’

SHEisRARE - Caeley Looney - Mission Analyst
Caeley on mission!

I get to experience the best of both worlds in aerospace and computing

For my job, I’m required to understand how all of the spacecraft subsystems not only interact with each other, but also what key roles they play in successfully achieving our mission. Once I have that all mapped out, I can analyse hundreds of what-if scenarios to see what the limits of the spacecraft are through data analysis.

What attracted you to choose a STEM field? How do you find navigating your career path as a woman in tech?

In sixth grade my mom dragged me to the first Robotics meeting at my local Girl Scout council. I immediately fell in love with robots. Once I got to high school I was given the opportunity to do some research on the Mars rover, and that’s where my passion for space first sparked.

Caeley’s love for robots

I thought it was crazy that there was this great unknown out there that everyone was so eager to learn more about, and I wanted to be a part of that adventure. So I decided to earn my degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It wasn’t until I started my Attitude, Determination, & Control (ADCS) courses that I realised that I loved satellites and small spacecrafts!

What is your biggest achievement that you are most proud of? How do you track and express your achievements in the workplace and beyond?

My biggest achievement so far was starting my non-for-profit Reinvented Magazine. My Twitter bio reads ‘Rocket Scientist by day, Editor in Chief by night’ because that’s exactly who I am!

Caeley founded Reinvented Magazine

I think that it’s so cool that when people say “well it’s not rocket science” and I can say back “well actually it is” as it took so much for me to get where I am today. Suffering through more mental illness than I could handled at times and overcoming imposter syndrome were certainly some big feats too.

I’m at a point now where I can turn around and give back

I can help the girls who are going through everything I just survived, and that is something to be proud of. The imposter syndrome and the mental illness are certainly not gone, but I have discovered a mission to empower younger girls to follow in my path towards STEM, and that mission is something bigger than me that I can use to help me get through my worst days.

Who are your mentors or role models that helped you either directly or indirectly?

My mom – hands down. I was incredibly lucky because I grew up with two parents who were engineers so my mom was always very encouraging of me to get into STEM too. She was always encouraging of all of the crazy things I wanted to do, and she never said no to any of my crazy ideas. If I wanted to build some crazy fort in the living room or if I had some oversized school project idea – my parents were both there ready to help!

It was their encouragement and support that kept me going. They were at every dance recital, every school concert, and most importantly – every robotics competition! They never failed to just be present in all aspects of my life, and that honestly meant the world to me. πŸ™Œ

How do you think women can be game-changers in time of crisis?

Dwight Schrute once said “I think it’s kinda dangerous to teach little girls leadership and self esteem.” He is absolutely correct. If more girls grew up to be as confident as they should be, this world would be totally different. But, the more of us who find our confidence and our voice, the more powerful we become, and the bigger the waves we make. πŸ’―

Right now, with everything going on in the world, I truly believe that the future is female. Women with strong voices are demanding to be heard and they are demanding change, and I have no doubt they will get it.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? Are there any technology resources that you would recommend?

1. Part of an Athena Leadership program exclusively for female leaders – So far it’s awesome and I’m learning a lot about being a leader, but also about myself and how my weaknesses can be used to be a more effective leader.

2. I’m learning how to listen – My team can definitely attest that I really have my head up in the clouds sometimes, and I forget how much work I’m imposing on my staff. Lately, I’ve been trying to step back and just listen to what my team wants to do, what they need from me to succeed in doing those things, and how else can I help them be effective in their roles. I’m certain that I have not mastered the concept of listening yet, but what I have heard so far has definitely helped me be a better leader.

It’s your day off. What do you do to relax?

Lmao day off… The few times I’ve gotten a day off, I love spending the morning at the beach πŸ– or going for a run. πŸ‘Ÿ Then I usually watch some episodes of The Office or Parks and Rec on Netflix. πŸ“Ί

What advice would you give to your 21 year old self?

1. Don’t give up – I’d be incredibly naive to tell you it is going to be easy. And as if the classes weren’t tough enough, you also get those over-confident boys constantly trying to push you down. But, you can’t let them. Some days will be harder than others, but you have to remind yourself that this is what you’re passionate about and that nothing is going to stand in your way from getting there.

Caeley sharing her experiences in a talk

2. Be unapologetically yourself – You won’t get anywhere in life if you choose to be someone you’re not. If you want to pursue a career in STEM, it doesn’t mean that’s all that you are and especially, you don’t have to conform to the stereotypical unappealing look of a ‘woman in STEM.’ You can wear, do, and be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to be someone else to fit in or to match a stereotype. If someone decides to treat you differently because of a part of who you are just keep calling them out on it and know it’s their own stupidity keeping them from understanding.

3. Don’t be shy – By now you’re probably thinking something like ‘sure this is all easier said than done’ and you are absolutely right. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for an incredible support system. You’re on SHEisRARE reading this STEM Story so you must know that there are a lot of us out there, and we are all here to fight for you. But, you have to do a little fighting for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find your SWE chapter, local Girls Who Code club, join an online community of women in tech like NCWIT or Ladies Storm Hackathons, and tell us when you’re having a rough day. We will be there to support you and lift you back up. You are not going through this journey alone.

What makes you RARE?

I don’t know, aren’t we all ‘one of a kind.’ I think my voice and my ability to use my voice to amplify those of others, especially through the magazine, is what makes me RARE.

Want to know more about Caeley? Connect with her on LinkedIn

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