Has held vital roles in engineering, manufacturing, and development of highly sophisticated unmanned air vehicles.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Former Program Manager and Proposal Leader for Northrop Grumman
Favorite classes: Quantum Mechanics with Dr. Henry Ahner and Optics with Dr. Eugene Hecht.
Advice to Adelphi students: “Be well versed; you need to get along with lots of different people.”
Most unusual job: “Classified!”
Guiding (Unmanned) Flight
In eighth grade, Mary Klement decided that optics and quantum mechanics would define her career. She was right.
She also thought that she would never work for the same company as her father, an F-14 fighter engineer at Grumman. She was wrong.
Many years later, Ms. Klement found herself serving as the proposal leader and program manager for the state-of-the-art Global Hawk program at Northrop Grumman in California. A logistics analyst by training, Ms. Klement held numerous vital roles in the engineering, manufacturing, and development of these highly sophisticated unmanned air vehicles (UAV).
The Global Hawk is a high-altitude Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconaissance (ISR) system designed to enhance military and homeland security capability. These aircraft can reach altitudes of 65,000 feet, speeds of 1,500 nautical miles per hour, and can fly for over 24 hours, all the while taking digital and infrared photographs with pinpoint accuracy. Ms. Klement worked with the UAV program for many years and saw its successful rise from proposal, to prototype, to a veteran of over 6,000 combat hours in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Before joining Northrop Grumman, Ms. Klement spent 15 years in the cruise missile division at General Dynamics, working in reliability and operations research. Ms. Klement also served as the escort to a team of Russian non-proliferation inspectors as part of the 1988 INF treaty agreements. She remembers the experience fondly and laughingly recalls how a sign for Building 35 placed in an empty lot caused some confusion about its apparent disappearance. It was later revealed to be an underground facility.
Once one of the few women in her field, Ms. Klement retired from an aerospace and defense industry that has grown increasingly diverse.
Ms. Klement attributes her passion for physics to her father and to the inspiring book Men Against Death. She chose Adelphi for its beautiful campus and convenient location, and stayed for a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physics. Ms. Klement also proved invaluable to her peers and professors; her long fingernails became unique laser test subjects in several optics labs.
Among the highlights of her career, Ms. Klement ranks her time as a graduate student and teaching assistant at Adelphi at the top. One of the two female graduate students in physics, Ms. Klement developed a close relationship with her fellow students and professors. She also helped several classes of nursing students to master algebra and physics.
Ms. Klement lives in San Diego, California. An avid, although admittedly often lazy, runner, she finished the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon a few years ago. In her retirement, she has enthusiastically taken up travel. In the past year alone, Ms. Klement was in Budapest, Prague, Chicago, Alaska, Italy, and Washington, D.C.
Her advice to Adelphi students, and especially graduating seniors: “Find a mentor. Successful people can help you be successful.”
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