Looking at the Big Picture with Deanna Watson ’14

“I’ve always been a tinkerer,” said Deanna Watson ’14, explaining how a penchant for taking things apart led to her burgeoning career in engineering. “As I was researching engineers and what they do, I stumbled upon this one line that I’ll never forget,” Watson recalled. “It said, ‘engineers turn their dreams into reality.’ That line was it for me. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

Since graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in mechanical engineering last year, Watson has worked for Mattel, Inc., where she is now a project management associate overseeing the production of hundreds of individual Hot Wheels products from concept to completion. In addition to her full-time job, Watson is currently pursuing an MBA degree at Pepperdine University. “I wanted a big-picture understanding of what I do,” Watson explained. “Engineering gives me ‘how things work’ and the MBA will give me ‘how the business works.’”

A commitment to seeking a broader perspective is something Watson credits to the balanced education she received at LMU. “When you’re an engineer, everything is very heavily focused on the sciences, but LMU forces you out of that,” Watson said, noting that classes in art, philosophy and ethics were an integral part of her studies. “As Father Chmielewski would say, ‘You have to know who you’re building it for, who’s making it, and the effects of what you’re doing.’”

Deanna Watson 2 200x300 - Looking at the Big Picture with Deanna Watson ’14
Deanna Watson

Watson got to see the effects of her efforts first-hand during her time at LMU. As program chair and later vice president of the National Society for Black Engineers, Watson spearheaded a successful program that brought elementary students to campus to encourage interest in STEM fields. “We wanted to be examples to them, to say, ‘Hey, math is exciting, science is exciting. Look at what you can do with it!’” Watson said. “Being able to invest in kids and what they do and what they love is inspiring to me.”

Using her skills to help someone in need was “the ultimate goal” for Watson. For their senior capstone project, she and three other students designed and built an assistive technology device that helped a young boy with a neurological movement disorder stand on his own. “That was a big dream of mine, and I got to make it real through engineering,” Watson said. “Helping people is a passion of mine and it’s something I never want to let go of, or ever stop doing.”