Engineers’ Week 2021 begins on February 21 and culminates on February 26 with the College’s annual Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering. The 2021 Ward lecturer is Lillian Dukes ’87 MSEE, a highly experienced senior operations leader who is currently senior vice president of Technical Operations at Atlas Air. She will address the College of Engineering community on “How Good Engineers Craft Great Careers.”
“It takes more than earning a degree to build a great career,” says Dukes. “We might think our success is driven primarily by the degrees we earn, but as I have come to learn, the skills we acquire in school and our paper qualifications are only a part of the equation.” Recognizing that launching a successful engineering career begins during students’ time in college, Dukes will stress the need to develop critical soft skills and to understand the importance of mentors. She will speak on building professional networks and learning how to navigate cultural and organizational minefields. Her lecture will explore competencies that will allow students to leverage their degrees in ways they may not have considered and will help them “build a great career in engineering.”
About the Lillian Dukes
Lillian Dukes has spent more than 30 years solving problems, hiring and leading great people and most importantly, delivering results. From her start as an electrical and aeronautical engineer, she rose steadily through operational line management levels to ultimately serve at the company officer level in vice president positions at several different companies. Dukes has driven development and change initiatives from concept through realized growth and profitability in companies such as Spirit AeroSystems, Beechcraft Corporation, American Airlines, American Eagle Airlines, and GE.
Dukes is both an adjunct professor and an advisory board member of the Graduate and Executive Education Aerospace & Defense program in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee. She is also a committed humanitarian leader for the Haitian charity Fondation Enfant Jesus and has been widely recognized as someone making a difference in society and in aerospace and engineering enterprises. As a result of her commitment and successes in these areas, she has been recognized and personally featured in industry leading magazines. While lending her experience by speaking on issues facing professionals in the industry, she also works to pay it forward by mentoring students and employees in their professional growth.