A Passion for Aviation, Engineering, and Public Service

March 2016
Sara Iacobucci
Sara Iacobucci

Aerospace and systems engineer Sara Iacobucci always wanted to work in the field of aviation and serve the public interest. "I love aviation, I love optimizing systems and creating efficiencies, and I wanted my work to benefit the general public," she says. "I did some research and discovered I could do all of that here at MITRE."

Iacobucci joined MITRE in the spring of 2013 and has contributed to a variety of projects since then. Her work supports the Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD), the federally funded research and development center MITRE operates for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Helping the World's Aviation Systems Work Together

In one project, she helped analyze air traffic controllers' information display systems to see how to improve them. "We examined the existing systems and talked with controllers to learn what they needed," she explains. "Using that information, we developed a concept, functional analysis, and requirements for a new system that would meet those needs."

Iacobucci is also working to introduce efficiencies into the Asia Pacific region's air traffic management systems. Her particular focus is Indonesia. "With MITRE's international sponsors, we are able to take what we've learned from our work for the FAA and apply that to the aviation issues other nations are facing. Conversely, we can bring lessons learned back home to better support the FAA," she says.

The impacts of these projects, Iacobucci notes, are diverse. "We're enabling controllers to do their jobs more effectively. We're helping passengers get places faster and more efficiently. We're improving aviation safety in other parts of the world, and we're supporting efforts to bring all the world's air traffic management systems into greater harmony."

(Video) MITRE systems engineer Sara Iacobucci helps create efficiencies in U.S. and international air traffic management systems.

Diverse Points of View Yield Better Results

Equally diverse, she says, are the teams she's served on. "Many of our teams include systems engineers, human factors engineers, and operational subject matter experts for all the different air traffic control domains. When we put all those different perspectives together, we get some great problem-solving and innovation."

Iacobucci credits her team members with helping increase her own expertise, too. "I work with some really smart, busy people, but I haven't met anyone who isn't willing to take the time to answer my questions. Everyone has a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge to bring the whole team up."

Iacobucci is also grateful for opportunities for growth that fall outside her job duties. "One of the great things about MITRE," she says, "is that if you are interested in something and you have a passion for it, there is the opportunity to go and find your place in it."

For her, that has included joining teams that were creating and implementing mentoring and shadowing programs at MITRE. Iacobucci also joined NextUp, a group designed to facilitate growth and connections among early career professionals at MITRE. She now helps lead a chapter of that group in MITRE CAASD.

"These are just some of the programs MITRE offers to help you learn and grow," Iacobucci says. "Even if you're not exactly sure what your career goals are, there are people here who will work with you to help you find that path. MITRE is here to support you in whatever way you need."

—by Marlis McCollum

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