The Catholic University of America

Nov. 16, 2015

Intelligence Director Honored with Engineering Award

  Letitia Long accepts the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from Engineering Dean Charles Nguyen.

The School of Engineering recently honored Letitia Long with the school’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Long, who earned her masters of science in mechanical engineering in 1988, spent her career in senior roles in the intelligence community as Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Deputy Under-secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Director for Intelligence Community Affairs at the CIA.

Long became the first female head of a major U.S. intelligence agency when she started her position as the fifth director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in August 2010. A combat support agency within the Department of Defense, the NGA informs customers ranging from the President to the Director of National Intelligence, to the military leaders on the ground who plan day-to-day combat and special operations missions.

The agency is one of several that played a critical role in the operation against Osama Bin Laden as well as disaster relief efforts after the typhoon in the Philippines and Hurricane Sandy.

Engineering Dean Charles Nguyen presented Long with the award during a recent luncheon for alumni of the school. He said Long was selected for the honor by a “unanimous vote” from the School of Engineering executive committee.

Long said she was “humbled and very pleased” to accept the award, adding that she had “only good memories” of her time as a part-time CUA graduate student.

“My master’s degree was very important because it was directly applicable to the work I was doing at the time in underwater research for the Navy,” she said. “There’s a very strong connection between the Navy and Catholic University, particularly in engineering and in underwater acoustics. Back then, Catholic was one of only three or four such programs in the country for underwater acoustics, which is very important for our nation’s security.”

Long said she was inspired to pursue engineering at the suggestion of her high school guidance counselor. Now she enjoys working with young women to encourage them to enter the engineering field.

“There still aren’t enough women in engineering and there aren’t enough women in senior positions in the government or private industry,” Long said. “I want to show young people that they can do it, that yeah, there’s still a little bit of a glass ceiling, but that there are more cracks in it, and to help them develop the confidence to succeed.

“It has been shown over and over again that the more diverse a group of people working on a set of problems, a better solution you’re going to get,” she said. “That diversity has to include women.”




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