In the plant and in the pool, industrial and systems engineering student-athlete Anna Francisco '21 strives for success

Anna Francisco '21 understands the importance, and impact, of making improvements. It's something she experienced in a recent internship and as a member of the Lehigh swimming and diving team.
Over the summer, Francisco, who studies industrial and systems engineering, served as an operations intern at Curtiss-Wright. The company provides naval and maritime technological expertise and "is the leading supplier of pumps and components which meet the demanding requirements of the U.S. Navy's surface and submerged fleet," according its website. Curtiss-Wright's Engineered Pump Division is based in Bethlehem, Pa.
"I worked with the test department, which are the people who tested the water pumps we made," says Francisco. "My supervisor wanted there to be improvements in many places of their department and he had a bunch of ideas for me. They told me what the issues were, but they also let me spot issues. We worked together and I came up with my own solutions."
The pumps go into the nuclear reactor plants inside of engine rooms, naval ships, and aircraft carriers, says Francisco, and her solutions "helped made Curtiss-Wright's processes and work space more efficient and organized."

During her internship, Francisco was thrust into important tasks: "On Fridays, we normally had a meeting with the testing team, mainly for brainstorming possible improvements in the department," she says. "Given my responsibilities in the summer, I was actually running those meetings. My boss gave me the attention of everyone and I came in with some of the issues I found in the testing department. I offered my solutions, took them on a tour, and showed them the issues I found so they could see them with their own eyes.

"Then, I asked for their feedback or suggestions on my solutions because they're the ones working with it first-hand."
Francisco says she felt prepared to take on a leadership role thanks to her development at Lehigh.
"I believe the way Lehigh Athletics has helped me most is through the Flight 45 Leadership Program," she says. "Lehigh really values creating leaders. They don't only focus on taking in people who are already leaders, but they also show all their athletes what it takes to be a leader and give us the support to build leaders inside out. That's given me the confidence, not just in the engineering aspects, but also in communication and reaching out to resources. It has given me the social side, and the ability to connect with my superiors."
Francisco's focus has been on processes, specifically making processes as efficient as possible. She has a yellow belt in Six Sigma, a set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by greatly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.

"This summer, I was able to get a deeper look at continuous improvement in the workspace," she says, "which is what I want to get into when I graduate."
Francisco's growth mindset will pay dividends in her academic and athletic careers—and in her life after graduation.
"Anna is forging a distinctive future career," says Lehigh head coach Rob Herb. "She is so open to learning and experiencing everything she can. I believe her summer opportunity has been vital in her career plan and showing Anna how capable she is. "

Read the full story on the Lehigh Athletics website

Story by Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications

Anna Francisco

Student-athlete Anna Francisco '21, a member of the swimming and diving team and an industrial and systems engineer, interned at Curtiss-Wright over the summer and took a leadership role in continuous improvement.

Anna Francisco swimming