AFRL senior technical advisor inspires daughter to follow in her footsteps

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – A senior technical advisor with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate inspired her daughter to embark on a military career full of adventure and multicultural experiences.

Lisa Fitzgerald raised four children who all ended up in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career fields. Her daughter, Aislinn Fitzgerald, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. While earning her degree, she took on new opportunities, such as becoming a glider instructor pilot. Her unique experiences allowed her to be accepted into the EuroNATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, where she is working toward becoming a United States Air Force pilot.

“Growing up my mom was an example of everything I wanted to be,” said Aislinn. “I would not be where I am today without her.”

Lisa began her college education at the University of Akron, Ohio where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She was a distinguished graduate from the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Core (ROTC) and went on to earn a Master’s degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in operations research.

“I used to say that I believe you can solve all the world’s problems with math,” said Lisa.

Lisa’s education background lead her to a career as an active duty Air Force operations research officer for 10 years. She spent the next 10 years as a consultant for capacity and performance engineering with LexisNexis before returning to the Department of Defense (DoD) to spend seven years as a contractor and eight years as an Air Force civilian. She inspired her daughter to follow in her footsteps by becoming an Air Force officer in a STEM career field.

“She knew I was an engineer and saw me balancing my career with motherhood,” said Lisa. “I am so proud of her accomplishments. She is really grounded and big on giving back.”

“I wanted to be an engineer in the Air Force like my parents, but my mom encouraged me follow my passion, which I realized was flying when I got to the Air Force Academy,” said Aislinn.

Aislinn’s participation in the multicultural pilot training program exemplifies her family’s unique history, as her father’s side are descendants of Ireland, who originally immigrated to the United States as part of an engineering program. Her military experiences thus far highlight her immersion in diverse cultures that have shaped her throughout her life.

Lisa is motivated by her daughter’s military career choice to provide the most cutting-edge technology to the operational warfighter.

“I am greatly motivated by knowing someone in the cockpit,” said Lisa. “I’m driven by truly supporting the warfighter and being responsible for handling taxpayer’s dollars.”

Lisa brings experience and tenacity to the AFRL team as the Aerospace Systems Directorate’s newest senior technical advisor with the Strategic Planning and Analysis Division (RQS) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Just like her daughter, she enjoys working with United States allies to develop advances in technology.

“My modeling, simulation and analysis (MS&A) background has brought me to having worked in many different domains: logistics, flight development and design, program management, enterprise information technology (IT), and data management,” said Lisa. “Our allies are also extremely important. We work together in the lab and it is neat my daughter also has similar experiences.”

“As the Senior Technical Advisor to RQS, Lisa will help integrate our division’s MS&A capability with a new digital engineering focus, facilitating the directorate’s portfolio toward necessary warfighter capability and expanding our capability to collaborate across AFRL and the DoD,” said Dr. Deborah Peeler, the RQS division chief. “Her IT experience will be invaluable in identifying our requirements to support the directorate’s strategic planning and analysis, integrated planning with the other AFRL directorates, and our enterprise data management across the directorate.”

Just like her daughter, one of Lisa’s largest motivating factors throughout her career has been service to others. Both women have a passion for giving back and making a difference in others’ lives.

“Lisa is technical while being a people-person,” said Peeler. “She’s very passionate about helping the warfighter, with a daughter in EuroNATO Joint Jet pilot training as a bonus motivator to promote our mission to provide new capability to the warfighter.”

“Three values I use to guide my career are honesty, humility and dedication to the mission,” said Lisa. “I look forward to working with my fellow MS&A and digital engineering leaders and the scientists and engineers in the directorate to optimize how we support the warfighter.”

Lisa’s passion allows her to be a strategic leader for the Aerospace Systems Directorate to advise and guide the next generation of technology. Just as she inspired her daughter to take on new challenges, she will inspire those she leads within AFRL.

image of engineer

Lisa Fitzgerald, a senior technical advisor with the Aerospace Systems Directorate, smiles in her work environment, May 7, 2021. Fitzgerald’s diverse career experiences inspired her daughter to attend the Air Force Academy and follow in her mother’s footsteps by serving in the military. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Simones)