Kathryn Tobey has followed an unlikely path since completing her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at CU in 1984. Today she works as the program director for a Lockheed Martin Space Systems payload development and delivery project.
Although she switched tracks from chemical to aerospace engineering, Tobey credits the critical thinking and organizational skills she learned at CU—as well as the inspiration of a senior project in which she investigated the global ramifications of engineering, highlighting the impact that engineers have on the environment and the economy—for launching her on her current career.
"The aerospace engineering industry requires teamwork and a high commitment to mission success. It may take five to 10 years to design, build, test and launch a system, but every phase is a new learning experience," says Tobey, who also earned a master’s in engineering management at CU in 1994. "I could list the hardware and software accomplishments through time, but really, the teams that I have helped build are the highlight."
In addition to her role as a program director, Tobey serves as Lockheed Martin’s technical liaison with CU. In this role, she focuses on technical collaboration to enhance Lockheed Martin’s relationship with the university through sponsored research, philanthropy, and communication with science and engineering faculty, administration, and students. She is also the past chairwoman and an active member of the Corporate Advisory Board for CU’s Women in Engineering Program, which works to recruit, retain, and encourage women engineering students.
Additionally, Tobey serves on the board of directors for the Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN) and is active in both the nonprofit Women’s Vision Foundation and the mentoring program at Lockheed Martin—two efforts that focus on inspiring young corporate women to advance in their careers.
"Innovation comes from recognizing the value of diversity of thought in the preparation of a solution," Tobey says. "Taking the time to assemble a diverse group to solve a problem will always yield solutions you could not come up with on your own."
Before becoming a program director, Tobey led projects at Lockheed Martin Space Systems as the director for program, subcontract, and product management. In that role, she integrated strategic teaming, product sourcing, and procurement compliance across the company’s lines of business. Tobey’s work has included ceramic manufacturing, designing Mars chemistry experiments, risk management, and system engineering for complex spacecraft programs.
"Having phenomenal systems of hardware and software orbiting the earth is something I am very proud of," she says, adding that she hopes "to be able to look back over time and remember the teams that made them possible."