Happy Pi Day! Pi Day is celebrated on 3/14 around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.141592. Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point.
Today is a celebration of math and continuous measurement and movement. In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with three JetBlue crewmembers in math and technology-related careers who keep our airline moving nonstop. From figuring out JetBlue’s flight times and IT problem solving to buying airplanes, these women help fuel the airline.
Jacquelyn Thich, Engineer System Operations Research, JetBlue
- What is your role at JetBlue? I am a System Operations Research Engineer. One of my responsibilities is to forecast block times – how much time a flight will take between departure and arrival – which requires understanding everything from our operations at an airport to air space congestion. These block times are then used, along with other components, to build the flight schedule you see on jetblue.com.
- Do you utilize STEM in your daily job? If so, how? I utilize my STEM education on a daily basis as my projects require using historical data to quantify impact. Engineering concepts help me figure out the best way to approach a problem given the specific constraints. Then, I gather and analyze historical data which requires math.
- How did you get into engineering? Because I always enjoyed math, one of my high school teachers recommended I take a new class being offered called Girls Exploring Engineering. It was there that I learned what engineering is and the different fields I could pursue. I loved the ability to apply math, science and critical thinking to solve meaningful problems and impact others.
- What excites you most about aviation? Its ability to connect people to other people, places, experiences and cultures. It’s amazing how after one flight, you can be reunited with grandparents across the country, create memories with friends exploring a historical site or experience people of different cultures carrying out their day-to-day lives.
- What advice would you give a young girl following a similar STEM path? Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Seek out things that interest you even though you may be the minority or you’ve been told it’s difficult. It’s more rewarding to take the risk and see what you can accomplish than to think ‘what if’ in the future.
Andi Azzolina, Director IT Data Services, JetBlue
- Do you utilize STEM in your daily job? If so, how? Yes, part of my job is designing and engineering technical solutions to solve business problems. What I love the most about my work is collaborating with and supporting other technologists to find the best solutions. This often involves juggling factors such as feasibility, cost, time and reusability. I love what I do.
- How did you get into IT? Honestly, it wasn’t planned – it just happened. As a social science major I had an interest in research psychology. This led me to HR early in my career. Over several years, I worked for a number of very technical leaders who spent time training me. Formally transferring into IT was a natural progression for my career.
- How did you begin your career? I started out in Human Resources Information Systems. I had the good fortune of having a brilliant boss and mentor who taught me mainframe programming and client-server applications. We built a pioneering application used for succession planning for prison workers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons! While I loved the work, when I realized moving up meant aspiring to be a warden, I moved on to my next job opportunity.
- What advice would you give a young girl following a similar STEM path? It’s easy to have misconceptions. Even if you don’t love math and science, there’s a much broader world of job opportunities in STEM fields than you think. Seek out people that work in different jobs in these fields and interview them to learn what they actually do.
Ursula Hurley, Vice President Structural Programs, JetBlue
- What is your role at JetBlue? I manage a team of 50 people spanning strategic sourcing, project management, and large scale strategic initiatives including structural costs and aircraft orders. My team creates processes for improvement and efficiencies. Prior to my current role, I was Director and Assistant Treasurer at JetBlue. My world revolves around math. In addition to math, I am exposed to our Technical Operations and Engineering teams as I negotiate and buy airplanes and engines for the airline, as these efforts impact their teams. As Assistant Treasurer, I managed JetBlue’s bank account and checkbook including our available cash and debts, financing activities, sourcing and buying fuel for every JetBlue flight and fuel hedging.
- How did you get into math and finance? I always loved math for the challenge it provided. In college, I majored in business with an emphasis in finance. I always envisioned working for a bank or financial institution. After my junior year of college, I interned for JetBlue and the aviation bug bit me… and here I am 14 years later! Since joining JetBlue, I’ve held roles in accounting, financial planning and analysis, investor relations, treasury and now structural programs.
- What excites you most about aviation? Every day is different. I love the unpredictability. Revenue and fuel pricing can change so quickly and have an impact on our business and bottom line. Aviation is such an essential part of our economy and travel is such a big part of many people’s lives. And it’s fun.
- What advice would you give a young girl following a similar STEM path? Follow your dreams and never let anyone or anything get in the way of that dream. When you are choosing a career, you should pick something you love. There are plenty of opportunities for girls and women to have successful careers in STEM. I am passionate about encouraging girls to pursue STEM as early as possible.
- What advice would you give someone with a fear of math? Just try it! Put some effort toward it to strengthen your skills. It makes you more rounded to have some experience in it, even if you don’t pursue it as a career. No matter what direction you choose, you will use some math in your everyday life from cooking to balancing your checkbook.
- You are the pilot of your life. What does your personal flight plan look like? Traveling helps fuel me. I love traveling and take advantage of our flight benefits. So far, I’ve been to 33 countries… that’s 13% of the world. I have lots more to go!