L-3 Wescam’s Anita Ramroop leads engineering of the MX-10
“Changing the way I think of myself as a woman in engineering has allowed me to excel,” she says.
“I bring a different skill set and perspective.”
Product lead Anita Ramroop manages L-3 Wescam’s MX-10 product line. Wescam’s advanced laser imaging and targeting systems provide image stability and long-range detection capability for military, Homeland Security and airborne law enforcement agencies worldwide. The MX-10 is a low to medium-altitude tactical surveillance and target designating system for fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Ramroop works at the company’s facility in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “I provide engineering resources to support the production and customer service organizations. Our engineers resolve issues; I coordinate details of new development for product improvements and communicate what they’re doing to the rest of the organization,” she explains. “Our biggest customer is the U.S. government, but we have other clients all over the world.”
Her team is made up of engineers and operations representatives from the MX-10 production cell team. “My management style is to maintain a friendly, respectful and cooperative work environment by effectively communicating priorities and status,” Ramroop says, “as well as addressing any issues that could prevent the team from being productive. I have an open door policy so team members can feel safe and comfortable discussing any pertinent topic. I want my team to feel a sense of accomplishment and know their work is valued and they are recognized.”
Ramroop was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. “My parents immigrated separately to Canada from Guyana in the 1970s, full of dreams and aspirations of their own,” she says. “My father owns his own engineering company, so I was exposed to engineering at an early age. As my parents achieved their goals, they encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming an engineer. Engineering is in my blood.”
In high school, she was fascinated with physics and electronics, and eventually focused on electrical engineering. “I attended Ryerson University (Toronto) because it offered a great balance between theory and practical application which, for me, is the most effective way to learn,” she relates. “The class sizes got smaller as I became more specialized, so it was easy for me to interact with professors. It’s close to home, and both my parents are alums.” Ramroop earned her bachelors in electrical engineering in 2003.
A different kind of lesson
After graduating, she joined Honeywell Canada (Mississauga, Canada) as a hardware designer working in the power conversion and distribution department. Three of her classmates, all men, came to Honeywell at the same time.
“I realized I was competing with them because that’s what I thought I had to do to be recognized and rewarded. But eventually I realized that I am different. I should really be competing with myself, focusing and doing the best job I possibly can. Changing the way I think of myself as a woman in engineering has allowed me to excel.”
She returned to Ryerson and got a masters in electrical engineering in 2008. By 2010, several of her colleagues had moved to L-3 Wescam. “I was hearing good things about L-3: fast growth, youthful environment, and cutting-edge technology. So when the company approached me, the decision was easy.” She joined L-3 in 2010 as a hardware designer in the electrical engineering department.
“A year later I got the opportunity to move to project management. For two years, I’ve been the MX-10 product lead and I absolutely love what I do. Managing a mature product is incredibly dynamic; each day you are faced with unexpected issues, either on the production floor, or from the field.”
Ramroop has her professional engineer license and is also a certified project management professional.
Two philosophies for success
“I think I’ve gotten to where I am in my career by embracing two key philosophies,” she says. “First, the work will always be there tomorrow. You can only contribute as much as the day allows. Tomorrow, pick up where you left off, refreshed and energized with new ideas and a clear perspective. Removing yourself from the challenge at hand for a while fosters creativity, and this is when solutions to difficult problems are born,” she believes.
“Second, stay true to who you are. Trying to act like ‘one of the boys’ didn’t get me very far. As a woman, I bring a different skill set, perspective and work ethic, and that sets me apart from everyone else. Being confident in who I am and what I’ve accomplished has definitely gained me respect from my colleagues and has given me many life-changing opportunities,” she reflects.
“There is still a lot for me to learn in my current role. As new variants of the MX-10 get released into production, managing multiple products will definitely be a challenge, but it will give me invaluable experience and professional fulfillment. Longer term, I’d like to move into a senior managerial role. I’d like to be a role model for other female engineers coming up,” she says.
“I have a sense of pride, satisfaction and even excitement when I see an A380 on the runway or a news story where an MX-10 was instrumental in keeping a community safe. There is no better feeling than knowing I’ve made a positive contribution to my company, the industry, and society.”
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