Washington State Magazine

Summer 2004

Summer 2004

In This Issue...


Short Shakespeareans :: Sherry Schreck has built her life and reputation on her love of children and Shakespeare and her unbridled imagination.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Photos of the young Shakespeareans }

All that Remains :: Nearly two-thirds of the Lewis and Clark Trail is under man-made reservoirs. Another one-quarter is buried under subdivisions, streets, parks, banks, and other modern amenities. Almost none of the original landscape is intact. No one appreciates this contrast like author and historian Martin Plamondon II, who has reconciled the explorers' maps with the modern landscape.

Full Circle :: Steve Jones and Tim Murray want to make the immense area of eastern Washington, or at least a good chunk of it, less prone to blow, less often bare, even more unchanging. The way they'll do this is to convince a plant that is content to die after it sets seed in late summer that it actually wants to live.

Listening to His Heart :: As a student at WSU in the late '60s, Ken Alhadeff questioned authority with zeal. "I was part of a group of folks that marched down the streets of Pullman to President Terrell's house with torches, demanding that the Black Studies Program not be eliminated. It was a war between us and those insensitive, bureaucratic regents," says Alhadeff...who is now a regent.


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: Where the Lilacs Grow :: A short story by Pamela Smith Hill}

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: Cattle & Women :: An essay by Laurie Winn Carlson}


:: SEASONS/SPORTS: WSU hall of fame adds five

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Music: Music in response to tragedy :: Bill Morelock plays music discussed in his article "Winter was hard"}


Cover: Perennial wheat is not a new idea. But its development on top of increasing input costs and environmental concerns could help secure agriculture's future in eastern Washington. See story, page 33. Photograph by Robert Hubner.

Northrop Grumman Corp. engineer Shannon Nutt received a national Women of Color Achievement Award.

Northrop Grumman Corp. engineer Shannon Nutt received a national Women of Color Achievement Award.

Challenges remain for women, minorities in technical fields

by | © Washington State University

"I think . . . [managers] need to be educated. They need to see more women and minorities who are competent at their jobs to dispel any prejudices against them." -Shannon Nutt

The fact that very few women were entering engineering careers 25 years ago didn't dissuade Shannon Ueda Nutt from pursuing her dream. Now she's enjoying a successful, challenging career with the Northrop Grumman Corp. in Palmdale, California, where she's engaged in a highly technical field supporting B-2 stealth bomber development.

"I knew my junior year in high school that I wanted to be an engineer," says Nutt. She remembers the day an engineer came to speak to her class at Spokane's Ferris High School. "My favorite classes were physics and math. I wanted to go into a field which utilized both."

Nutt credits her Japanese American father, Hiroshi William Ueda, for convincing her that she could be a success at any profession she selected.

"His support made me believe that there were no boundaries . . . that I could do or be anything that I wanted, regardless of race or sex."

After graduating from Washington State University ('81 Elect. Engr.), Nutt worked during the 1980s with Rockwell International on the space shuttle program and the B1-B bomber.

At Northrop Grumman, she develops, tests, and integrates operational flight software for avionics control processors on the B-2 stealth bomber. She is part of a rotational program that allows employees to learn different aspects of the company for six-month stints. Her recent assignment was with the B-2 Radar Modernization Program, updating the B-2 radar system to meet new Air Force radio frequency requirements.

In September 2003, Nutt received a national Women of Color Achievement Award in Nashville, Tennessee. The awards were presented during the Women of Color Research Sciences and Technology Awards Conference celebrating the successes of minority women in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering.

"I try to mentor women who are new to the industry with their careers, if asked," Nutt says. Because of this award, she has had young woman engineers who are relatively new to the company e-mail her asking for advice.

Although honored by the award, Nutt wishes there were more awards simply recognizing achievement in research and technology, regardless of ethnicity or gender.

From her WSU days, Nutt recalls the influence of  Harriett Rigas, chair of electrical engineering, who oversaw a Society of Women Engineers chapter, and assistant professor of electrical engineering Edmund Schweitzer. "I didn't appreciate until later in my career the immense quality of the teachers WSU provided," Nutt says.

Asked about challenges remaining for women and minorities in technical fields, Nutt cites the need to erase wrong perceptions about their abilities. She also recommends working hard, being prepared, continuous training, and networking.

"I see the inequities, and a lot of them are caused at the lower management level. I think they [managers] need to be educated. They need to see more women and minorities who are competent at their jobs to dispel any prejudices against them."

"There are still instances where not much is asked or expected from women or minorities because of certain perceptions and prejudices. There's a lot of talent out there that is under-utilized. Management isn't giving them the chance to prove themselves."

Nutt believes it's important to invest time in helping each other out professionally, and to mentor, she says "or this talent will be lost to another company."

Categories: Sociology, Alumni | Tags: Women, Minorities

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