Northrop Grumman Architecture Lead, Christy Haworth, provides model-based systems engineering vision for Next Generation Polar project


Northrop Grumman architecture enjoys aerospace and aviation

Northrop Grumman architecture enjoys aerospace and aviation

 March 15, 2021

Christy Haworth is the architecture lead on Next Generation Polar (NGP) providing model-based systems engineering (MBSE) vision for the team. Since starting at Northrop Grumman as an intern in 2014, Christy has held a number of systems engineering leadership roles, and she brought her passion for MBSE to NGP when she started on the program in January 2019.

Aerospace and aviation have always been part of Christy's life - she loved Top Gun as a kid, both her father and father-in-law are pilots, and her and her husband and have a plane that they fly on the weekends. They even got married in their airplane hangar [pictured above]

While she always knew she wanted to be in the aerospace industry, Christy was searching for a way to bring together all of her passions. As a systems engineer, she loves the technical work, but she also enjoys the big picture aspect of the work. She also has a creative side — whether singing, playing piano, home-improvement projects, card-making or scrapbooking, to name a few.

Christy shares how it was in an MBSE career at Northrop Grumman that she found a perfect balance for all these interests.

Communicating complex information to stakeholders

Christy had heard about MBSE in college, but it was while interning at Northrop Grumman, working hands-on with MBSE, that it all clicked.

"Integrating everything we do on the technical side into an enduring, authoritative source of truth — as described by the Department of Defense in their Digital Engineering Strategy — not only allows us to develop more quickly, but enables us to spot errors a lot faster," she explains.

The digital model allows Christy and her team to communicate complex information to a variety of Northrop Grumman stakeholders, both technical and non-technical, in a meaningful, digestible way. She explains that successful MBSE requires artistry and creativity to translate the technical intricacies of a solution into a format useful to all stakeholders.

"You can't just be an expert on the payload, or ground, or a processor, or hardware, or software — you have to understand all of it! To be effective at MBSE, you have to understand the mission plus all of the technology and disciplines required to make the whole thing happen. It's being the ultimate generalist and strategic thinker for a program," she adds.

Creating processes, analysis and design in engineering

Engineering Northrop Grumman

As architecture lead on NGP, Christy is seeing MBSE bring out creativity and new ways to approach processes, analysis and design. Her team is integrating the high-level space and ground segments for two national security satellites that will provide missile warning in the northern hemisphere. Because the two satellites are part of a larger constellation, Christy and her team are also integrating system architecture within the overall enterprise.

"It takes engineers from all different disciplines and backgrounds, working together, to bring this complex system of systems into reality, making sure it meets our customer's needs and serves our country. As new people have joined the team, it's been fun to see their excitement around digital transformation regardless of whether or not they have had former MBSE experience," she shares.

On NGP, Christy and her team are driving digital transformation, making sure their processes and tools align to do their jobs better every day. One of the greatest values of MBSE is the traceability of various stakeholder concerns to different features of the modeled system, which helps her understand how the system connects — what Christy calls "the big picture".

Experiencing a mindset shift with digital engineering and MBSE

"But there's a mindset shift that goes with it," explains Christy. Northrop Grumman is fostering a culture where people step back and communicate about the big picture — "listening, to truly understand what the challenges are and then working together to reach a solution and injecting new approaches where they can add value," she adds.

Christy always thought she'd work on airplanes but she ended up in outer space. Still, she approaches engineering the same way she approaches aviation. "I'm very safety-conscious,"she explains. "You have to understand the details, be prepared for many different situations and have the ability to pivot. Our team's big picture mindset, supported by MBSE, enables us to analyze all the available options and then quickly move forward, together."

"I've stayed at Northrop Grumman because I absolutely love what I work on and the people that I work with. I look forward to what I do every day, blending my creative and technical sides, and I value the culture here, because I feel that my company cares about all of us as a whole, and also recognizes each of us as individuals contributing to the bigger picture."


Join successful female engineers like Christy at Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman systems engineers are Defining Possible every day. Like Christy, they are using their passions to create purpose in their career, and contribute to the bigger picture at Northrop Grumman and beyond.

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