Robin P. White
Name: Robin P. White
Place of Employment: Naval Sea Systems Command, Department of the Navy
Job Title: Director of Surface Ship Design and Systems Engineering
Education: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, University of Michigan
Masters in Engineering Administration, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Mrs. White currently serves as the Director for Surface Ship Design and Systems Engineering. In this position she is head of the Group within the Naval Sea System Command’s Naval Systems Engineering Directorate that provides the technical leadership to ensure current and future US Navy surface ships can safely and effectively perform mission requirements. Mrs. White joined the Naval Sea Systems Command as a naval architect in the Stability Division in 1989, after working in industry for several years. She was a Branch Head, and than a Division Director for Hydrodynamics, Weight Control and Stability, where she was responsible for the safety and stability of US Navy ships and submarines. Mrs. White was a key technical advisor to COMNAVSEA on the alternatives for bringing home the USS Cole after the attack in 2000, recovering the USS Lamoure County after severe damage, and floating the USS Cape St George from a buckled dry-dock. She has lead efforts to assess novel hull forms for dynamic stability in support of the DDG 1000 program and to provide heavy weather operator guidance. Mrs. White was appointed to the Senior Executive Service as the Director for Hydrodynamics in January 2003. In that position she was the responsible technical authority for ensuring US Navy surface ships and submarines have the speed, maneuverability, stability and seakeeping performance to meet their missions. She provided leadership both nationally and internationally with foreign Navies, in determining research and technology needs. She was responsible for design evaluation, approval, and certification of hydrodynamic characteristics for acquisition programs and for ships and submarines in service. Mrs. White was appointed as the Director for Aircraft Carrier Design and Systems Engineering in 2007. She stood up this new group to provide the engineering and technical authority for aircraft carriers in service, under construction and the design of the new Ford Class.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
Building confidence in my skills and abilities so that I could take on new challanges when the opportunities arose. Technically, my biggest challange we understanding how to apply current criteria and standards to new technology in an extreme weather environment at sea.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
The ability to solve problems with expertise you have built up over time, working collaboratively with many other people that have different types of expertise, and ultimately providing those solutions to the people who really need them (in my case, the US Navy sailor).
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is considering doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM, what would that be?
Build knowlege and skilll on a foundation of what you think your strengths are. Don't forget to learn and practice good written and verbal communication. An engineer needs to be able to explain to non-engineers what they are doing.
Did you have STEM mentors?
When I was in high school considering whether engineering would be a good field for me, my Dad got me in touch with a friend who was an engineer and could explain what it was that engineers did in real life. That helped me decide to apply to an engineering major.
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
I was a Girl Scout. Camping and canoeing down the rivers of Michigan were my favorite GS memories.