So who is Cindy Hoover?
I graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from Wichita State University in 1990 and have worked for a variety of companies during the past 29 years. I am currently the Vice President and Chief Engineer for Operations at Spirit AeroSystems. I have worked in the oil and gas field, high tech electronics and am now in commercial aerospace. I have been married for 29 years, have three grown children, and a Border Collie named Cody. In college, I joined the Society of Women Engineers and have been a part of that organization for over 30 years. I am currently the President of SWE and travel throughout the United Stated and internationally talking about the organization and the need for more girls in engineering and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.
Do you build airplanes?
At Spirit, we build the structures that make up the airplane. We then ship these large structures to Boeing or Airbus, who put the pieces together to make the full airplane. My team of around 650 engineers and planners work on these projects and help make sure that what is designed can be built by the operations team. In order to get the work done, there are project teams that design the project and work together to create structure that is then shipped to our customers. Much of engineering is about solving problems by working in teams. Communication skills are critical to the success of the team, as many times there are team members in different cities and sometimes in different countries. What is exciting is to watch the product take shape and once it is built and shipped to the customer, it becomes a part of a plane that will fly families, friends, business people and the military where they need to go.
What do you like to do?
When I am not working or taking care of family or SWE business, I like to take vacations to the beach, and I have taken up diving as a hobby. Diving the Blue Hole in Belize was definitely top of my bucket list! I also enjoy reading and relaxing at home. And, of course, I love watching the WSU Shocker Basketball Team.
What does it mean to be the president of SWE?
The Society of Women Engineers is a professional engineering organization with over 40,000 members. I am the President of the Board of Directors for the organization. In this role, I help to drive the mission of the organization through the strategic plan. So, what does that mean? Simply put, it means that I try to do three things:
1) I help women succeed in their careers as engineers
2) I help kids to see that engineering is a great career option that can help make our world a better place
3) I advocate for a diverse and inclusive environment in school and at work
One of the great ways we can show kids about engineering is to provide hands on activities that show the different types of engineering. One way we have done that locally is through the Wichita Engineering Expo. It is a great way to explain what the different types of engineering are and how that can be used to make the word better. For example, a Mechanical Engineer might develop a new system to provide clean water to children in Ethiopia or a Biomedical Engineer can make a new mechanical arm for a soldier who may have lost theirs in battle. Engineers find innovative ways to solve problems and improve our way of life.
How did you get involved with SWE, and why do you like SWE?
I joined SWE when I was in college. This was over 30 years ago, and there were only a few women in my graduating class in engineering school. I joined SWE to meet other women like myself and in the process made a lot of lifelong friends. I have also met many new friends along the way, including Colleen who convinced me to start diving! I have also traveled to many new and exciting places with SWE, including India where I was able to see a new culture and meet more wonderful women in engineering.
How did you become president of SWE?
I have held many different roles within SWE. I started in college and then worked with my local SWE section in Wichita. While I was there I worked very hard with the section to develop programming and events that would attract members and provide a fun way to meet new people. I held many different roles at the local level, before moving into regional leadership. When I was leader of the region, I oversaw sections in six states and had to learn to communicate with teams that were spread out. I moved into national leadership when I became chair of the finance committee. It is important for leaders to understand the finances of the organization that they lead. This led to my being treasurer of the board of directors, which is an elected position. To be on the board, the nominating committee must find that you have the skills required for the position. To be president, you have to be able to communicate well, have financial understanding of the organization, work well in teams and bring out the best of your team members.
What do you hope to accomplish as the president of SWE? What do you hope for in the next year?
As President of SWE my goal is to drive the mission of the organization forward. Specifically, I want to advocate for all of our 40,000+ members and help them succeed in their careers. I also want SWE to provide tools and messaging for our schools, colleges and companies around the importance of having a diverse and most importantly an inclusive environment for everyone.
What are some reasons that I should be part of SWE?
SWE is a fantastic way to meet other girls just like you! We now have SWE Next clubs that work side by side with collegiate and professional members to help solve important problems in the community. Most of all, it is an environment where you will have a network of girls who will be supportive of your curiosity. See what some of these amazing groups are doing in these design lab videos.
How do I become part of SWE?
If you are still in K-6th grade then continue to participate in SWE outreach events like the Engineering Expo. Make sure you keep on taking the math and science courses available to you in school. Once you get to middle school, you can join a SWE Next Club. If your school doesn’t have one, than you can start one on your own! See more on SWE Next here.
Have you ever been to EXPO?
When I was the President of the Wichita Section of SWE, I started the Engineering Expo. I look at how far it has come in the past 20+ years and am so proud of how much it has grown. When we started it was only 150 attendees and a few activities. Now we attract over 3,000 attendees and had to move to Century II, because of the size. When we started, I had an activity on conducting electricity that was a lot of fun. In more recent years, I have helped with a number of booths, including flinkers and robots. I am also now the executive sponsor for the event from Spirit.
How can I become so accomplished like you?
What I want is for you to be whatever you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, especially a career in engineering or the STEM fields. Engineering is not an easy career – you do have to study hard and be good with math and science. However, it is a great career where you can make a difference. Keep on attending events like the Expo and participate in activities like Girls Who Code, BEST robotics and Project Lead The Way. Find your passion and follow it … SWE will be here to support you!!