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Maranda Wong: 2020 Women of Innovation® Community Innovation & Leadership Finalist

“I just want to be happy and enjoy my life. That is how I define success.”

Maranda Wong is a Commercial and Advanced Military Engines Component Integrated Product Team (CIPT) Deputy and ACE (Quality) Deputy Manager in the Material & Processes Engineering department for Pratt & Whitney. We asked Maranda what it means to be a CIPT Deputy Manager:

Maranda Wong opening up the Asian Heritage Month Celebration hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander Desi /American (APID/A) Employee Resource Group at Pratt & Whitney.

“At Pratt and Whitney, we develop Aerospace Engines. Each part of the engine is broken into components and each component has a team, so the team owns a specific amount of hardware. Their focus is on how each part of the engine works, how everything in it all works together, and how it works in the component next to the other one. I work in Material and Processes Engineering and our focus is on the whole engine. We do not own hardware, but we work with all the materials. I work with other CIPT leaders to make sure the materials are integrated properly. My team works to ensure the material is safe, and we get the best product focusing on durability, making sure the bonds are strong and they do not fatigue and break at the wrong time.”

Maranda’s day to day looks different depending on the stage of the project life cycle. She reviews project status for budget and schedule alignment and to mitigate any risk that may arise prior to completion. She works directly with the project owners and technical team to ensure project delivery and customer satisfaction. Maranda plays a key role in integrating MPE technology with different modules for advanced military engines. She mentors/coaches project management skills and reinforces the use of ACE tools to aid in problem-solving, and is passionate about developing materials solutions to improve process, manufacturing, and technology.

But Maranda did not always want to be a Material Engineer. As a teenager, she wanted to teach, until she took a pilot engineering course during her senior year of high school and fell in love with Ceramics Engineering. In college, she was sold on material engineering after taking a class during her freshman year. Maranda’s journey was not easy, but today she can say without a doubt that she loves Material Engineering and her career at Pratt & Whitney which allows her to “combine her passion for science, math, and creativity”.

Maranda is making the best of her time during the pandemic, staying involved with organizations such as the Asian American Leadership Forum (AALF) at Pratt & Whitney. She is proud of the organization for finding creative ways to keep its members involved, ranging from launching a Covid-19 relief fund to continuing their Asian Heritage Month celebration via Zoom. Maranda invests her time in supporting AALF because of the current social and economic times, engaging her team, and helping them feel safer during the pandemic.

Pratt & Whitney employees celebrating and learning about Diwali at an event run by the Asian Pacific Islander Desi /American (APID/A) Employee Resource Group at Pratt & Whitney.

Maranda was also a judge with the CT and National Invention Convention in June, where K-12 students showcase their innovative solutions. She was in awe of the creativity coming from young kids, and how those ideas evolve. Maranda says, “I want to be able to support them because I didn’t have this when I was young but wish I did. I want to encourage these kids to keep inventing”. She was especially surprised to see one student who coded a Raspberry Pi with the intention of connecting it to a hat with a video camera enabling autistic people to recognize those around them. She said, “I was blown away at the fact that a kid wanted to make their peers more comfortable. He went through the effort to create that and I really enjoyed seeing that. It was extremely empathetic.”. She went on to say, “Seeing what these kids think up is amazing. It is great to see what goes on in their heads and watch them tackle social and economic issues”.

Maranda is making the best of the Covid-19 life in other ways, recently adopting a 4-month-old puppy named Adi. She decided to settle in CT, buying a house two weeks before the pandemic shutdowns. She enjoys CT’s proximity to her family, Upper NY as well as Vermont where she loves to ski. She is busy with home décor and in her free time, loves to garden (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.) and make her own pickles!

Meet the new addition to the Wong family, Adi! Adi is named after the Adirondacks where they like to go backpacking!

So, what’s next for Maranda?

Maranda is excited to climb the ladder in her career. As a ‘people person’ she wants to be an effective manager. Other than that, she just wants to be happy and enjoy every aspect of her life. It’s her definition of success. “That’s something my parents have always said to me. They don’t care what I do as long as I am happy. My parents have done so much for me and my sisters, the least we can do is be happy”. You are onto something there Maranda. What is the point of it all if you can’t be happy?

Piece of Advice: Learn how to Learn, Internships, and Learn to Fail

“I love working at an aerospace company and interning helped me figure out what material engineering is. Internships are a huge part of learning. You go to college to learn how to learn, where you are on your own for the first time. You are in charge of your schedule from eating to sleeping. You learn how to not fall behind, be driven, and keep yourself motivated. You take those skills everywhere you go. That’s how you showcase your dedication. In college, learn how to learn and then find internships!”

“It doesn’t hurt to try new things. It is nerve-racking, but you can always try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else. One of the best pieces of advice I received at Pratt & Whitney is that it’s okay to fail. I had experiences where things didn’t go the way I expected, then reflected and asked myself “what happened” and “what can I do differently?” Success comes from learning what you did wrong and how to get better. I used to be a perfectionist, but I learned that nothing is perfect, and it might take one, two, or ten times to get to where you need to be. There are always ways to improve things. Failure is an uneasy feeling, but if you start by taking your successes that aren’t full successes and understand what went wrong, it will help you be more comfortable with failing.”

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