Jessica Kesner and her team made it through an hour of field testing before the ice storm worsened and forced them back to shore. They were testing a custom sensor delivery method that Jessica had designed off the coast of Virginia, a hands-on job that's nearly impossible to perform through sopping wet, bulky gloves. Even in less than ideal conditions, though, field testing is one of Jessica's favorite parts of her job.
Jessica is a mechanical engineer. She's worked at Lincoln Laboratory since 2010, first in the Mechanical Engineering Group, and now in the Chemical and Biological Defense Systems Group. Although she spends most of her time in the lab designing and building or out in the field testing, she's also very involved with the Lincoln Laboratory Women's Network, or LLWN. Not only is she one of her division's representatives, she has also helped to organize the Cultivating Lincoln Achievement and Success Symposium, a week-long professional development event focused on giving all members of the Laboratory community an equal chance to succeed. Jessica found the support and informal mentorship from communities like LLWN incredibly helpful in balancing her life outside of the Laboratory with her technical achievements at work. She now works part-time in order to spend more time at home with her two children, and says that she has never felt that her schedule impacted her treatment or the excellence that was expected of her — or her ability to get out into the field and get her hands dirty.
"Regardless of the conditions, it’s rewarding to work together at a test site as part of a team — working to fix your unit on the fly, making sure each of us is hydrated or hasn’t totally lost feeling in our fingers, always being willing to lend a hand or a pair of dry gloves as needed," said Jessica. "And it’s amazing to see your hardware being implemented, whether it’s flight testing a custom-built UAV or helping install a specialized sensor unit into the nose cone of a WB-57 aircraft."