The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) named Missy Brost, a 2009 graduate of the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program, a 2010 Distinguished New Engineer of the Year, “for setting and reaching lofty professional goals, for technical achievement in structural engineering and engineering systems, and for leadership in SWE and her community.”
“It’s really exciting to be thought of as one of the most distinguished,” said Brost, who is the program manager for The Boeing Company’s enterprise-wide initiative Design for Ergonomics and Workplace Safety.
“Missy is an unusual combination of technical capabilities and leadership,” LGO Director Don Rosenfield '69, SM '71, EE '71, wrote in support of her nomination. “[She] was one of the very best students in her class ... [and she] also stood out in terms of leadership and community involvement.”
Brost, who joined SWE at 17, has served as president of the Pacific Northwest Section and is currently vice president of the Los Angeles Section. “The two most important roles that SWE serves are the development of women in engineering to help them be successful and really encouraging the next generation to consider engineering as a career,” she said.
She will receive her award, which honors women who have “demonstrated outstanding technical performance, as well as leadership in professional organizations (SWE) and the community,” at SWE’s annual conference Nov. 4-6 in Orlando, Fla. She is one of five awardees in her category.
Brost said watching “Apollo 13” inspired her to become an engineer. “You know when they’re fixing everything on the ground while everything is going wrong in the [spacecraft] over 200,000 miles away?” she said. “I wanted to be them.”
Brost eventually achieved her dream to work at NASA, but it was Boeing that captured her for the long-term. She loved flight and joined the company in 2001. “I’ve worked on some of the coolest things ever,” said Brost, who was fuselage engineering manager for the 747 and manager of the final body join for the 777. “We make people fly.”
Boeing even sponsored Brost’s enrollment in LGO. “Boeing’s been very good to me,” she said
Applying to LGO appealed to Brost because she knew she wanted to stay in engineering and she wanted to be a leader. Focusing on Engineering Systems was natural, she said, because she had been working on the shop floor for the 777 and could see the huge impact that operations decisions can have.
“A slide in schedule is ridiculously expensive” at Boeing because the product is so complex, Brost said. “Someone not getting us a bolt sometimes can cost us a ridiculous sum each day.” She said LGO’s lessons in accounting and leadership have helped her considerably at Boeing — as has the opportunity she got at LGO to learn more about how other companies and industries operate through hands-on experience.
“It was a good fit,” she said. “And now I’m leading an enterprise-wide initiative to improve our tools, training and processes to ensure consideration of factory ergonomics and safety. I’ve got pilot [programs] under way in 10 different areas — everything from fighter jets to satellites to commercial airplanes.”
A distinguished engineer indeed.
The MIT Leaders for Global Operations program is a dual-degree MBA and Master’s of Science in Engineering program that began in 1988 as Leaders for Manufacturing.