Women in Aviation - Alicia Langlais

by Alicia Langlais on Mar 05 2019
Hi, my name is Alicia Langlais, and I am currently a Principal Engineer at ACSS. As a young child, I was fascinated with space and aviation, and dreamed of being an astronaut; I had decided to become an Aerospace Engineer by the time I was 12.

In 2007, I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It was commonplace to be one of two women in a classroom full of engineering students, but there was a sense of mutual respect and comradery with my fellow students because we shared similar goals. I was also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Sigma Gamma Tau Honor Society.

In 2006, I had the opportunity to be an Engineering Co-Op at United Space Alliance. I worked at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and Flight Crew Equipment facility at Johnson Space Center, where I generated procedures to maintain and repair Extravehicular Mobility Units (space suits!). After graduation, I became a Shuttle Communications Network (SIMNET) Instructor at United Space Alliance. In this role, I trained flight controllers and shuttle crews how to respond to shuttle communication network failures.

In 2009, the Space Shuttle was retiring, and I volunteered for a layoff just in time to have my first child. I was able to stay at home with my baby girl for a year and a half, walking dogs and tutoring high school math on the side.

In 2011, my family and I moved to Phoenix to start my new job at ACSS, where I became a Systems Engineer until accepting my current position in 2017. My second daughter was born during this time, in 2012. While balancing work and home responsibilities is not easy, I am thankful to have flexible employers.

As a Systems Engineer at ACSS, I developed requirements and tested various systems, such as Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems and Reactive Windshear Systems. I also investigated failures in the lab and in the field. One of my proudest moments was being the Systems Lead for a development project. As with any big project, there were challenges along the way, but we were ultimately successful thanks to a dedicated and talented team.

In my current role as a Principal Engineer at ACSS in the Aircraft Integration and Certification group, I coordinate with the FAA and development teams to obtain Technical Standard Order (TSO) Authorization for new and modified articles. I really enjoy solving the little “mysteries,” and every day presents new challenges and opportunities to learn.  With the support of L3 and my managers, I am pursuing a Systems Engineering Certificate at Stevens Institute of Technology, which I expect to complete in May of this year.

Working with NASA, and now with ACSS, promoting a safety culture is important to me – both in our products and in our work environment. I was a Safety Representative at United Space Alliance, and have been an Emergency Response Team member at ACSS for the past 7 years. I also have an active interest in studying aircraft accident cases to understand how we can further reduce the risk of accidents in the future.

I have had the honor of working with incredibly talented men and women throughout my career. My advice to any women who want to join the aviation industry is to keep an open mind and do not be afraid to tackle new challenges. Your plans and priorities will change over time, but facing these challenges will help you grow stronger and more resilient.