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Sade Morris


Manager, Project & Component Engineering - System Interconnects

Where I've been in my career and where I'm going... I spent the first ten years of my career working at Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company. I had many fulfilling positions including Handling Qualities Engineer, Flight Test Engineer, Aircraft Test Director, and CH-53K Aircraft Test Director Supervisor. I grew as an engineer and a leader at Sikorsky Aircraft. In 2018, I made a change and began my career at Aerojet Rocketdyne. As a Project Engineer, I led technical teams to develop propulsion solutions for both the space and defense sectors. I was placed in a variety of roles including Deputy Chief Engineer supporting the integration of the RL10 engine into a new rocket design, Investigation Lead for a major engine test anomaly, and an IPT lead for defense programs. In these roles I learned the skills I matured at Sikorsky were very transferrable, and I became more confident in my abilities. I was recently promoted to be the Manager of our Project & Component Engineering System Interconnects group. This team helps to provide engineering support for the subsystem and external components on engines for our Space and Defense Business Units. I also recently became a Board Member for our Women's Employee Resource Group, 'RISE', where I hope to help other women grow their confidence as engineers and leaders.

Sade Morris

Fondest memories of AOE...

  • Rebuilding Turbulence Syndrome at a Design, Build, Fly competition
  • Dr. Durham's Flight Test Course w/ Simulator Labs
  • Engineers Week Duct Tape Competition where I was duct taped to the glass wall of Hancock Hall

Favorite Virginia Tech tradition...

Jumping anytime you hear Enter Sandman

Challenges you've had to overcome in aerospace engineering...

The hardest thing I've experienced as a female engineer is hearing the whispers that you got the position or promotion because you were a female. It completely discredits the hard work you put in while on the job, or the extra hours spent studying earning an advanced degree while working. I had moments in my career where I lost my confidence from hearing those comments. I do believe employers try to be fair and unbiased during raise/promotion cycles, and managers want the best people leading their teams. As hard as it might be, don't let the negative whispers get you down.

Faculty member who had the biggest impact on you...

Dr. Woolsey - I remember that I performed poorly on one of his exams, and he checked in on me to see if everything was okay. That moment of caring always stood out to me. The professors want to see the students succeed! Dr. Artis - He wasn't a professor at the time, but he attended a COE event as an alumnus where I was seeking donations for our DBF project. Somehow he became my life-long mentor and career coach. He got me into Flight Test Engineering, and fully supported me when I told him I wanted to go play with rockets 10 years later. I'm so thrilled he's teaching at AOE now and able to mentor so many students!

How do you stay connected with fellow Hokies?

Supporting the AOE Advisory Board and mentoring VT AOE students.

How AOE equipped you for the "real world"...

The multitude of group projects, whether for class or extracurricular fun, taught several skills that were critical for working at a large aerospace company. Learning teamwork and how to work with diverse personalities is imperative. It takes many specialized skills and talents to make a project successful.

"I wish I knew then"...

I had placed so much pressure and stress on myself when studying. The perception I had was that grades meant everything... if I didn't get an A on the exam I wouldn't succeed later on. I can promise you that 10 years into my career, no one cares that I got a D in Statics. What does matter is that I'm able to work in teams to solve difficult engineering problems.

A woman who helped you get to where you are...

A recent source of inspiration was when I was eating lunch with Jill Marlowe, and some current VT students at an AOE Advisory Board Meeting. A female student was discussing her challenges she experienced at a recent internship, and Jill was providing mentorship about remembering to be strong and to not let the silly 'tests' that experienced employees seemingly put all engineers through bother you. Go out there, be brave, and prove yourself. (Those weren't her exact words, but that was the message I took with me.)

I had recently joined a new product team at work, and I was finding myself a little discouraged. Joining a new team always has its unique challenges, and the other teammates don't know what skills/strengths you bring. Her words helped me to remember to be brave and prove what I can do with my hard work and dedication. Within a few months of that lunch, I felt more accepted as a leader on the team and also earned my next promotion. Thank you Jill!



Want to share your story?

Contact: Jama Green

External Relations Manager