Soaring to New Heights
Kristen Marquez is breaking barriers—in more ways than
one. As a manager for Boeing, one of the world's leading aerospace companies,
Marquez is succeeding in a field with few females.
Marquez was a first-generation university student when
she earned her BS in mechanical engineering in 2006. Now the Boeing Commercial
Airplane 787 Final Assembly Manufacturing Engineering Manager in Seattle,
Washington, Marquez is one of the youngest managers within her immediate
division. She ensures that the airplane manufacturing process is as efficient
"I strove to excel in my five years with the
company," Marquez said, "I have the opportunity to impact the build
of the airplane directly. It is a very challenging, but rewarding
Marquez also helps others overcome barriers in their own
lives. Despite her heavy workload with Boeing, she finds time to mentor high school students with the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum through the Making Connections program at the University of Washington, and volunteers for
organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Seattle Works, and Northwest Park
Her role with Making Connections is close to Marquez's
heart. As a leading female in a male-dominated field, Marquez wants students to
"Recent studies have shown a tapering of women in STEM
curriculum-related jobs," she says. "So my contribution to increase
the numbers is by mentoring students and showing them the possibilities."
Her civic service doesn't come as a surprise, considering
her involvement with clubs as an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona
University. She served as the vice president of the university's Society of
Women Engineers (SWE) chapter, as well as the Treasurer of the Society of
Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) from 2005-2006.
Marquez's achievements are a testament to the heights that
can be reached with focus, determination, and dedication. Marquez encourages
undergraduates to develop good writing and problem-solving skills.
"Good writing is important and it is a skill—good
writers will always have a job somewhere," she says.
"Most likely, you will work in a place that will
require you to learn new technology, processes, materials, etc.," she
said, "but if you have a sound and logical method for solving problems,
then you will be able to get past the learning curve quickly in the
A solid foundation
Marquez largely attributes her success in the workplace
to her rigorous, hands-on educational experience at Northern Arizona
University. "Earning an engineering degree from NAU was challenging for
me, but it gave me a great foundation for my current work habits," she
said. "I may have had to sacrifice some of my time in college for more
studious activities, but now, many doors have opened up because I have the
degree and got good grades."
Marquez also appreciated the accessibility of her
professors. She said she always felt encouraged and able go to her professors
for help—her favorite professor, Dave
Hartman, in particular.
"I easily got to know my professor and peers,"
she said. “[Dave Hartman] always had a sense of humor. He introduced real life
applications of engineering theory."
During her time at the university, Marquez took advantage
of opportunities to manage projects and network, such as attending local,
regional, and national conferences and acting as the team lead for her senior
capstone project, all of which prepared her for her position at Boeing, she
"The university has a great balance between the
technical aspects of engineering and project management," Marquez said.
"I was given the opportunity to take a lead role on my capstone project,
and various other lead roles throughout my NAU career, and it has really helped
me to get to my current position."