Dawn Harms, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, native who was a first-generation college student, is an exceptional role model for both female and non-traditional engineering students. Her professional career is marked by a journey from design engineer to corporate leader and Harms now is vice president of marketing and sales at Space Systems/Loral, a world-leading manufacturer of communications satellites headquartered in Palo Alto, California. In her position, she is responsible for securing and sustaining more than $1 billion annually in gross sales of realistic satellite systems in a high-stakes, vital and vibrant international industry.
In 1984, at age 25, Harms enrolled at UW-Madison and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. She began her engineering career designing traveling wave tubes at Teledyne MEC in Palo Alto, California. In 1987, she became business director for the company’s commercial communications product line.
Harms joined Ford Aerospace, which became Space Systems/Loral, as a subcontract engineering manager in 1990. In this capacity, she specified and negotiated requirements for microwave components and provided technical oversight for the subcontracts with vendors worldwide. In 1993, she served as sales director of the company’s Asia Pacific business development and then vice president of marketing and sales for the Americas in 1996 before advancing to her current position.
In 2010, Harms was elected to the board of directors of the Society of Satellite Professionals International. She frequently participates in worldwide conference panels representing the satellite manufacturer’s perspective within the industry and in advanced engineering, management and leadership programs. She served on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Industrial Advisory Board for five years and hosted events to foster relations between alumni and the ECE department. She is excited to rejoin the board beginning in 2011.
Harms is a member of the Bay Area Badgers, Wisconsin Alumni Association, Special Need Children Center Foundation and a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. Harms resides in Sunnyvale, California, with her husband, Greg, who is also an engineer in the space industry. They are the proud parents of Alyson, Geoffrey and Derek. Alyson is currently in law school at the University of San Francisco and their twin sons, Derek and Geoffrey, are entering the first grade. Harms is a board member of Amazing Creations Preschool and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School. In her free time she cherishes family time at their vacation home on the Pacific coast.