WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Dr. Jennifer Fielding, Section Chief of Composite Performance and Applications at the Air Force Research Laboratory, was one of 20 women who received special recognition from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) for making their mark in aerospace and defense smart manufacturing. Smart manufacturing uses computer technology to assist in most if not all aspects of manufacturing, from design to workforce training to supply chain and more. SME’s recognition was given to those who work to globally expand the rapidly growing aerospace and defense smart manufacturing market.
According to SME, the recipients represent a comprehensive cross section of experts in digital manufacturing, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, the Internet of Things, predictive analytics and cybersecurity. The list was developed by SME’s Smart Manufacturing magazine in consultation with several leaders — both women and men — from across the aerospace industry.
“While much room exists for improvement when it comes to diversity in manufacturing, the field is rife with opportunities for those with the qualifications and desire,” said Sandra Bouckley, CEO and executive director of SME. “These women are superbly proficient in the basics of aerospace manufacturing — composites, polymers, machining — and their management, and they’re anxious to share their insight with others who desire a chance to make their mark in this swiftly expanding industry.”
Fielding, a member of SME since 2014, believes that men as well as women have an important role in furthering the careers of women in aerospace and defense smart manufacturing.
“The struggles that women may face throughout their careers should not be theirs alone to try to solve,” she said. “Everyone has a role in creating a more diverse and inclusive aerospace and defense industry.” Fielding is a 2020-21 SME Member Council representative.
Fielding launched and managed America Makes, an institute that uses partnerships among U.S. industry, universities and federal government agencies to develop new manufacturing technologies. “America Makes has made great advancements in deploying additive manufacturing (‘3-D printing’) for our airmen and for growing the additive manufacturing industry,” she said.
Fielding finds the autonomy, mastery and purpose that are described in the book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” in her current position with the Air Force Research Laboratory. “Mastery and autonomy are why I chose AFRL, but it is important to mention why I have stayed at AFRL — purpose,” she said. “It has been my greatest honor to be a part of a team that is delivering outstanding technical capabilities to our airmen and strengthening our nation’s industrial base.”
Fielding also has experience as a crisis counselor, which helps her to engage others and to have difficult talks aimed at finding common ground and resolving conflict. “These are key skills to have for anyone in a leadership role,” she said.
Fielding has been with the Air Force Research Laboratory for 17 years, doing hands-on research and program management in fields such as polymer matrix composites processing, nanomaterials, and multifunctional materials. She holds a PhD and an MS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. Fielding was the Deputy Program Manager for the Defense-wide Manufacturing Science and Technology Program, previously managed through AFRL, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Technology Division. This program works to develop manufacturing technologies that apply to all branches of service for the benefit of American warfighters.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.