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Alumna Profile: Tabitha Hitchcock, Submarine Engineer

Reprinted with permission from UConn magazine (“Forty Under Forty”), Volume 9, Number 3 – Fall/Winter 2008

Tabitha Hitchcock ’93 (ENG) launched her career at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., by accepting her job two months before graduating with a UConn degree in civil engineering.

She has not slowed down much since.

Within three years at EB, the company that does U.S. Defense Department contract work on submarines, Hitchcock was managing a team of 20 engineers, designers and craftsmen to construct the stern end of the first Virginia-class nuclear submarine.

The $2.5 billion, 7,700-ton “Virginias” were the first submarines to be built without periscopes.

In 1998, EB honored Hitchcock for her outstanding performance on the project. The U.S.S. Virginia was launched in 2003.

Hitchcock’s successful project management resulted in a promotion to engineering supervisor, overseeing teams of up to 25 technical professionals working on software development.

She took the initiative to participate in Process Engineering, a group at EB that learns, implements and teaches a process-improvement strategy known as Lean Six Sigma.

The methodology identifies and removes the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes using a set of quality management standards including statistical methods. “The goal is to make existing processes more efficient,” says Hitchcock, who received her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification in 2006.

In 2007 Hitchcock was selected to Electric Boat’s Business Leader Group, which develops high-potential candidates to become executive leaders within the company, and earlier this year she was recognized as one of the company’s first principal process engineers.

In this role, Hitchcock works on unusually complex problems to improve Electric Boat’s performance. She mentors management and employees in the application and execution of Lean Six Sigma techniques across the enterprise and is often requested as a consultant to senior management in developing strategies and obtaining buy-in to critical business changes.

Hitchcock sets high goals for herself and those around her. “If you do, people will surprise you and meet them,” she says.