Julie (Stallard) Acosta ’80/84 never thought of herself as a minority while studying electrical engineering at WSU. But she did notice there “weren’t many women in Double E,” which is how she refers to her chosen discipline. “I got a lot of support, help and encouragement from friends, family members and professors,” she recalls.
Like many WSU students, Acosta strove to balance participation in campus organizations with her studies — and a family. Her oldest son, Joe Gessler (who graduated from WSU in 2000), was born during her sophomore year.
After graduating, Acosta worked first at Learjet and then for Boeing Wichita. Her initial responsibilities at Boeing were with the military arm of the company and focused on electrical systems and avionics.
After moving into the company’s commercial enterprises, Acosta became chief engineer of structures while working on the 737 Next Generation jet. She was making her way up that proverbial corporate ladder, in a male-dominated industry.
In 1997, Boeing Wichita selected her to attend Harvard’s executive education program, a six-month course of study. When she returned, she went to work for Boeing’s operations department. Today, she is Boeing Wichita’s director of 757 structures.
“I always felt like I was part of things,” she said. “You either cut it or you don’t. You have to pull your own weight.”