In an article that will be published in the next edition of Notre Dame's "IRISH" magazine, 2004 ND Prep grad Patrick Foxworthy is working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop systems to improve America's security
An early desire to "make things better" led 2004 Notre Dame Prep grad to Washington, D.C., and into a crucial role in helping to make America safer. Patrick Foxworthy is currently managing the development of new technology as a systems engineer with The MITRE Corporation, a McLean, Va.-based not-for-profit organization that provides systems engineering, research and development and information-technology support to the government to help address issues of critical national importance.
Foxworthy says he always knew—even back in the 7th grade—that he wanted to be an engineer. He just didn’t know what kind of engineer.
"Science, technology, engineering and math always seemed to mesh well with how my brain operated," he said. "I settled on industrial engineering (IE) after exploring several different engineering fields my senior year at NDP." He settled on IE because it focuses on "making things better."
"You can define ‘things’ as production lines, package delivery or even a theme park," he says. "In the end, it is the industrial engineer’s job to improve how they all operate through the application of engineering principles."
Keeping America safe
Now Foxworthy is improving the way the nation protects its citizens. "I’m part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) systems engineering Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), and the folks I get to work with at MITRE are very intelligent, thoughtful and driven," he said. "It’s reassuring to know that people like that are working on the large, complex challenges that face our nation."
He's been supporting Homeland Security since he started at MITRE, primarily on two programs. When he first got to D.C., Foxworthy was supporting information technology (IT) systems that the government deployed to support the nation’s critical infrastructure (roads, electrical grids, monuments, chemical factories, dams, etc.). MITRE's job was to ensure that the system testing was objective and as thorough as possible.
Then, in 2011, he was given the responsibility of managing the overall execution of several technology pilots for a federal law enforcement agency within DHS. He said the implementation and results of these pilots are helping to shape and strengthen the DHS acquisition strategy and process while informing the department of best practices for the interaction of science and technology at R&D organizations with end-user components.
"I know that all sounds complicated, but basically I manage the development of new technology used within DHS," he said. "By doing so today, I can help shape how the department integrates technology in the future for other components, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)."
Notre Dame paves the way
Foxworthy's educational preparation for his career took him to Kettering University in Flint, but he says he realized later in life that even after Kettering, Notre Dame Prep also played a big role in his success in college and ultimately in his success in the workplace.
"At NDP, once I had chosen industrial engineering as college focus, I began searching for the very best schools that offered an IE degree" he said. "At the time I remember thinking that I shouldn’t be worried about getting into my school of choice—that I had already been prepared for that. Looking back, I have to say it was more due to NDP’s preparation than to my ego."
His engineering program at Kettering required him to participate in a co-op program right off the bat. "That experience was phenomenal—I even got to work as an IE at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in both Anaheim and Orlando. Just don’t ask me which one was my favorite!"
Foxworthy is effusive when it comes to advice for high-schoolers considering a career in engineering. "My advice here is very simple: Do it!!! Our nation is in desperate need of high-quality engineers and it can be a very rewarding career. Being an engineer is a commitment to lifelong learning. I don’t mean that you will be in class your whole life, but rather that there is always something new and different to learn with the engineering mentality. Also, I would encourage students to become involved with professional societies early on. [Foxworthy is a long-time member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers.] They generally offer great benefits for student members and can more easily springboard your career from student to professional."
Looking back a few more years to his time in high school, Foxworthy says that Notre Dame Prep absolutely prepared him well for his career and for life. "One thing my parents always told me is that fundamental, lifelong knowledge is gained during K-12 education," he said. "They sacrificed a lot so that I could attend a school like NDP and I’m seeing the value of that every day of my life. When I was in school, it was only Notre Dame Prep and what is now called Notre Dame Marist – Middle Division. Now with the lower division, I think many young people at Notre Dame are going to be very well-positioned for wherever their lives take them."
He said the abundance of opportunities available to NDPMA students was endless when he was there and continues to grow. "Partner that with the academic rigor of advanced placement classes—and now an IB program—and all ND students have an excellent ability to build outstanding résumés."
But it isn't just academics and rigor that Foxworthy recalls from his Notre Dame days. He says he remembers watching the soccer team play Plainwell HS for the state title back in 2000. "And I also recall German class in C1, lots of exciting calculus lessons with intuitive noises, Pontiac Northern track practice, late-night tech rehearsals for drama productions, early morning band camps and lots of time spent walking or driving to 7-11 and the Stuffed Bun."
About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.
(March 4, 2013)