Dr. Christine Haissig, a honorable mention for the Avionics Magazine’s Women of the Year Award, had always excelled in science and math, setting her sights on a career in engineering during her high school days. And if certain conditions had been just a little bit different, she may have chosen an entirely different branch of engineering altogether.
“Through a process of elimination like saying never to geology after a rocky hike with a less-than-enthusiastic graduate student and saying no to mining engineering after visiting a damp, dripping copper mine I ended up deciding on aerospace engineering as a freshman at the University of Minnesota,” she said.
Haissig, an engineering fellow at Honeywell in the area of communications, navigation and surveillance, has devoted her career to promoting safety in aviation. She has spent years working on applications of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), including In-Trail Procedures, Flight Deck Interval Management and Enhanced Traffic Situational Awareness on the Airport Surface with Indications and Alerts.
“My favorite part of my job is taking complicated technical analysis or information and presenting it so that a broad audience understands its importance.”
Haissig chairs the Surveillance Technology Council for Honeywell Aerospace, which develops technology strategy for Honeywell surveillance and safety products and coordinates technology development across advanced technology locations in the United States, Europe and China. Her recent activities include developing mitigation strategies for the use of earlier versions of ADS-B for oceanic In-Trail Procedures in support of a Honeywell program with FAA to develop an In-Trail Procedures demonstration for United Airlines 747s flying in the South Pacific. Additionally, she is leading the operational performance assessment for a cockpit-based system that reduces the likelihood of collisions on the runway by providing indications and alerts. Haissig has also played a significant leadership role in a number of Honeywell projects as a part of the company’s participation in the SESAR Joint Undertaking. Haissig is developing requirements, reviewing major deliverables, coordinating the technology development in the United States, Europe and China, and mentoring a relatively new Advanced Technology team in Europe.
“My favorite part of my job is taking complicated technical analysis or information and presenting it so that a broad audience understands its importance,” she said.
During her career, Haissig, who has been with Honeywell since 1993, has been a tireless mentor to women in the engineering field, working with the Society of Women Engineers and recruiting women into Honeywell’s engineering ranks.
“I am so used to the gender disparity that it rarely registers. Occasionally I get some very strange comments, but that occurs much less frequently than it used to,” she said. “There are now more than a handful of women, and there are now women in senior positions. And I don’t think male engineers would get away with rating all of the women that walk into the cafeteria as a part of the standard lunchtime conversation these days.”
Haissig said patience and persistence helped her overcome perception problems of women in this industry. “The challenge is overcoming the stereotype that women are not technical experts but should become managers, particularly if they are organized, well-spoken and present themselves well,” she said.