Growing up in a family with nine children in Germany, Liz Poul was used to the generosity of others. Living there while her dad worked as a civil servant for the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency as an electrical engineer, she recalls how her dad’s co-workers would send care packages and turkey for Thanksgiving.
Witnessing that kindness at a young age made an impression on the CST-100 Starliner systems engineer about the importance of giving back to the community, which she does when she’s not inside the factory.
As a systems engineer and Electrical Power Systems test lead, she’s responsible for verifying that flight hardware meets acceptance test requirements.
She tests the electrical power system on the spacecraft and performs offline test and checkout of the flight batteries and solar arrays. She also develops test procedures, validates and certifies support equipment for the power system, and performs channelization testing of flight sensors on the spacecraft.
During Starliner integrated ground testing, pre-launch, launch and on-orbit operations, she’s on console in the Boeing Mission Control Center.
“I really like my team and the program is exciting," Poul said. "I like being able to help with troubleshooting.”
Outside the factory, it’s not unusual to find her and her husband lending a helping hand in times of need.
In recent years, they’ve travelled throughout the U.S. helping those in need, including preparing and packing meals in south Florida following Hurricane Ian in 2022, and helping in Tennessee with debris cleanup and repairs in 2021 and 2022.
When Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana just prior to Labor Day weekend in 2020, the pair didn’t hesitate to load up a trailer full of food and water and drive 15 hours to cook burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and spaghetti and meat sauce at a soup kitchen in the area.
Poul and her husband, Roman, who previously worked for Boeing for 19 years in information technology, own a deli in Cape Canaveral. They cooked and fed more than 1,200 people near Lake Charles and received help from co-workers, including one who lent his truck for the long drive. People throughout the Florida Space Coast community provided donations for gas and other expenses.
“We wanted this to be from our community to their community,” Poul said. “The area had been devastated. Homes were blown over, and others looked like they had exploded everywhere. People were so grateful even for a bottle of ice cold water. It makes you so happy to be able to help.”
Poul joined Boeing in 2013. Her dad influenced her career path. Prior to his work in Germany, he worked briefly on the Apollo program as a contractor at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He now teaches electrical engineering at a community college. When Poul was in high school, her dad suggested that she also consider becoming an electrical engineer, as she enjoyed math and science. While at the University of Florida, she received a paid internship at the United Space Alliance, introducing her to the space field.
She spent the next 11 years on the shuttle program in numerous roles including electrical design engineer and lead project engineer responsible for the batteries used on the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters. She was involved in troubleshooting and processing engineering change packages, and supporting vendor audits and finding resolutions to problems.
She also spent time supporting pre-launch testing and launch in the Booster Launch Operations Center and presenting hardware specifications and drawing packages. Compiling acceptance test data and trend reports prior to every launch and presenting engineering design changes, reviews and reports to NASA were also part of her responsibilities.
“Being part of space exploration makes me feel like I am helping fulfill the human desire to go out and explore the unknown,” Poul said. “I love being one of the few people who get to climb into a space capsule that will dock with the International Space Station and where astronauts continue to learn more about living in space.”
When not giving her all to support human spaceflight, Poul volunteers on various Boeing committees, including the Employee Engagement Team and previously served on the leadership team of REACH, which provides professional development and mentoring opportunities to employees and community outreach.
Knowing firsthand how it feels to be helped continues to inspire Poul to want to help others — in all kinds of ways. She said she enjoys meeting new co-workers and helping connect people with the resources they need.
“We spend so many hours at work,” she said. ‘It’s so much nicer when you feel connected to the people around you.”