Careers in Cybersecurity: DARPA Forward

All dates for this event occur in the past.

Dreese Lab, Room 260
2015 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Are you interested in alternative career paths beyond big technology companies?

On October 18th, Branch Chief Engineer Rachel Heffner and Technical Director Jennifer Wourms will speak on DIB and government organizations that are pushing the edge of emerging technology through cutting-edge, innovative work. AI/ML, Systems/Digital Engineering, Crypto, and Blockchain are among some of the upcoming technologies mentioned. The event, geared towards computer science and mathematics majors, will take place in room 260 of Dreese Labs from 1 to 2 p.m. Free food and beverages will be provided.

The expert engineers (biographies below) will attend the event in person.

  • Rachel A. Heffner is currently the Branch Chief Engineer for the Crew Systems Engineering and Human Systems Integration Enterprise Branch, Engineering and Technical Management/ Services Directorate, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command. Ms. Heffner is the competency manager for seven technical disciplines including escape systems, life support systems, anthropometry, crew station engineering, human factors engineering, human systems integration and air transportability/airdrop. She currently supervises 28 engineers and engineering technicians at Wright-Patterson AFB and provides career guidance to 148 collocated engineers at various acquisition program offices in Ohio, Maryland, Oklahoma and Georgia. 

    Ms. Heffner began her USAF civil service career as a GS-04 office assistant intern at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command in their Communications, Installations and Mission Support directorate. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Wright State University, she joined the Palace Acquire program at WPAFB as a Crew Systems Engineer. Her first assignment was in the Combat Systems Program office working helmet mounted displays for use in various fighters and attack aircraft. After being the first student at the University of Dayton to complete a Masters degree in Bioengineering, she transferred to the F-35 Joint Program Office at WPAFB and was the Air Force’s Lead Crew Systems Engineer for the F-35 helmet mounted display. Over three years later, she transferred to the RQ-4 Global Hawk program office and was the Lead Crew Systems Engineer for a ground station redesign for a remotely piloted aircraft. After RQ-4, she was promoted to the position of Human Systems Integration Technical Expert within the engineering home office. 

    Outside of her official capacity, Ms. Heffner enjoys serving local students in the community and furthering her education every opportunity she gets. She is actively working towards completing a PhD in Systems Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology. She is also a devoted wife and mother to two young boys.

  • Jennifer L. Wourms, a member of the Acquisition Corps, is Technical Director, Flight Systems Engineering Division Engineering Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. She is responsible for assessing program compliance for over 60% of the USAF airworthiness requirements in the areas of structures, flight technology, propulsion, sub-systems, crew systems, aerial refueling and airdrop/aerial delivery. 

    Ms. Wourms started her federal service at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio in 1989 as a Crew Station engineer in the Support Systems Engineering Directorate. Over the last 30 years, her work has involved ensuring user requirements and military standards are met on Air Force weapon systems. In 1992, Ms. Wourms moved to the Special Operations Forces System Program Office (SPO) supporting the AC-130U Gunship and the MC-130 Combat Talon II. From 1995 through 2001, she was assigned to ASC/SD which became the Global Reach Program Executive Office (PEO). She provided crew systems guidance on multiple platforms including JSTARS, 767 AWACS, KC-135 and commercial aircraft variants. She was the lead Crew Systems Engineer on the C-130J and ended her tenure in Mobility as the lead Crew Systems Engineer and Controls and Displays Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead on the C-5 AMP and Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP) programs. In 2001, she moved to the B-1 program where she worked to develop systems that increased the B-1’s combat capability for Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom through improved situational awareness. For this work, Jennie received an award for Exemplary Civilian Service in 2004, the same year she was promoted to Crew Station Technical Expert in the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) Engineering Directorate. In 2010, Ms. Wourms took an assignment as the Chief Flight Systems Engineer in the Joint Primary Aircrew Training System (JPATS/T-6) program where she was responsible for all aspects of Flight Systems Engineering including structures, subsystems, aircraft performance, propulsion, and crew systems. In 2012, she was promoted to the Technical Advisor in the Crew Systems Branch, AFLCMC/EZFC, and transitioned to Branch Chief in 2014 where she was responsible for managing a branch of over 20 crew systems and air transportability engineers as well competency management for over 70 engineers across AFLCMC. From 2016 through 2019, Ms. Wourms was Chief Engineer for the Human Systems Division in the Agile Combat Support Directorate where she was accountable for aircrew life support, egress, survival, nuclear/biological/chemical defense, and aeromedical/aerovac equipment to US and allied air, ground, and naval forces. She spent 2020 as Chief Engineer, T-7 Division, Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate, providing technical leadership and guidance to more than 50 military and civilian engineers charged with the technical oversight of the $20B acquisition of the T-X Advanced Pilot Trainer to replace the T-38C before transitioning back to the Engineering home office to fill the vacant Flight Systems Technical Director position. 

    Jennie is the proud mom of Brian, an urban planner in Seattle, Colin a finance IT professional in Denver, and Claire who is in her first year of Physician Assistant school at Butler University. She lives with her husband, Steve in Beavercreek, OH.