Sarah Wauahdooah grew up with an eagerness to learn. Coupled with a prowess for math and science — and valedictorian status at her small rural Oklahoma school — she decided to become an engineer.

Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a chemical engineering degree and experience as a Boeing Materials and Processes intern, Sarah knew two things about herself: She wasn’t interested in being a traditional chemical engineer, and she didn’t want to sit behind a desk.

Today, her job meets that criteria. She is a Manufacturing Research and Development engineer and a subject matter expert for Assembly Automation on the V-22 Osprey program — a role that keeps her on the shop floor, working with robotics so that her colleagues can do their jobs safely and more effectively.

“I think automation is the future, and it’s the future I want to be a part of,” she said. “The technology is becoming safer and more affordable. My goal is to increase the company’s awareness of recent advancements while making sure our robotics meet strict safety and quality requirements.”

Sarah began her full-time career on the V-22 program in 2019, supporting and improving robotic drilling systems for daily operation. She is now focused on supporting the implementation of Boeing’s first automated sealing system, a robot that will be used on the V-22 aircraft in early 2023.

“From a day-to-day standpoint, I run testing on the machines and support operators with troubleshooting and process improvements, so it’s a lot of hands-on support and coordination,” she said. “If anyone has a question about how they’re working or what’s happening with them, I’m the person they ask.”

Sarah also supports the Defiant X program, where she’s working on integrating automation into the production system up-front, which will maximize the utilization of robots on the program.

“The community I saw inside of Boeing made me want to join the company."

Robotics aren’t the only things Sarah has brought to the Ridley Park site. Alongside co-chair Ben Oster, she is also a founder of the Boeing Employees Indigenous Network (BE-IN) chapter in Pennsylvania. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, she has tribal affiliations with the Comanche Nation, Muscogee Creek Nation and Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Now that she’s in Pennsylvania, she wants to learn about the tribes indigenous to that area and increase awareness of their history and culture at her site.

Sarah also makes an impact through her work with the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) as a mentor for up-and-coming engineers at the University of Oklahoma. As an undergraduate, she attended the AISES conference every year and remembers Boeing’s presence as a top sponsor— in fact, connections made through the organization are how she decided to join Boeing in the first place.

“Apart from the job itself, I decided to work for Boeing full-time because of the presence it has in supporting AISES,” she said. “The community I saw inside Boeing made me want to join the company, and I want to expand that community here in Philly.”

Boeing employee group photo at a recent American Indian Science & Engineering Society conference
Boeing employees, including Sarah Wauahdooah (fifth from the left in the middle row), pose together at a recent American Indian Science & Engineering Society conference. (Stephen West photo)