Math, engineering make a difference to general
Brigadier Gen. Jocelyn Seng serves as a liaison to the Air Force Reserve Command and currently serves as the mobilization assistant to the Air University commander and president. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rebecca Burylo)
by Becca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs
3/8/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- While boys fixed cars and built bikes after school, Brig. Gen. Jocelyn Seng was at home with violin in hand, but that did not deter her from thriving in the male dominated worlds of the Air Force and mechanical engineering.
"The best thing is to follow your passion and persevere, embrace lifelong learning and strive for self-improvement," she said.
Seng adds that her success was due in part to following strong female role models, such as first female four-star general Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, and the first class of women graduating the United States Air Force Academy in 1980. Such women are referenced in the extensive database of the Women's Air Force Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, which Seng is a founding member.
Seng achieved strides in the areas of math, science, engineering and technology, demonstrating this year's Women's History Month theme: "Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination."
Working with composite materials, she has helped build weapons systems for the Air Force, is a strong proponent for science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, inspiring youth innovation and is the current mobilization assistant to the Air University commander and president.
Born in Germany and raised in Chicago, Seng was expected to get A's in school, making it difficult to discover what subject she was most passionate about. She wanted to study mathematics, so she pursued engineering.
"I ended up becoming a mechanical engineer, because it had the most math. It's also a solid foundation from which I could become anything else," she said. "Growing up watching the Apollo launches, engineering seemed like an exciting profession. It had a lot of appeal -- technology, making stuff, building stuff, doing stuff. I always wanted to do something constructive."
Entering the advanced composites field on the ground floor, Seng worked with materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass. She soon became actively engaged in the design, analysis and manufacturing of these materials, which are used in many aircraft and satellites..
"I joined the Air Force as an opportunity that opened doors," said Seng. "The Air Force's high-tech profile really appealed to me," adding that the military was the only way she would have been able to attend college. "It was a life-changing opportunity. It really was living the American dream."
Seng continues to live that dream from the time she graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ROTC program in 1984 to her time at the Pentagon as MA to the military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and now at the Air University.
"At the Pentagon, I was working on development of weapon systems and trying to best equip the warfighter," she explained. "It was very exciting. However, when you build weapon system, it takes a long time. There's a long process involved. Here, with student production, student graduates make a very immediate impact."
Serving also as a liaison to the Air Force Reserve Command, Seng arrived at Maxwell the beginning of February for her initital visit, during which she investigated the base mission in order to best assist its commanders. Though here only a month, Seng enjoyed her stay, commended the work of the Air University and the 42nd Air Base Wing, and looks forward to returning in April.
"I love it here. It's great working for Lt. Gen. Fadok," Seng said. "The leadership is outstanding at all levels and the mission is very constructive and uplifting. Education is an inspiring mission."
Seng also works as a civilian with the nonprofit Institute for Defense Analysis as a research staff member and provides objective analysis of national security issues in the areas of cyberspace, missile defense and engineering workforce management.
Maintaining a 16-year marriage with two children, Seng has demonstrated success in achieving a balance between military duty, civilian career and a family.