Science & Technology

System science alumna: 30 years later

Since graduating from the University of West Florida in 1979 with bachelor degrees in math and systems science, alumna Diane Bourg has enjoyed a diverse career. From working on satellite tracking and control, to computer telephony, to hot air ballooning, she attributes her education for enabling her to engage in such scientific pursuits. Bourg reflects on how the university has influenced her life.

“UWF was the launching pad for both my personal and professional life,” she said. “One of my best memories of attending the university is the day I met my husband, John. In June, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Professionally, I earned the degrees that have afforded me a long, successful career that ultimately allowed me to retire at the age of 50.”

Bourg spent most of her career as a defense contractor, working in the defense subsidiaries of large corporations. Initially, she worked as a software engineer. Then, after obtaining a master’s in business administration, she went on to become a system engineer and eventually a program manager. “Getting a degree in system science-scientific, or computer engineering today, opened many doors,” she said. “Most of the systems science grads back then were from the business option. I didn’t want to do business programming, so I took the scientific option, which meant I was able to work in a great deal of interesting areas throughout my life.”

Bourg says that she enjoyed the small class sizes at UWF and the fact that all of her professors knew her by name. Thirty years later, UWF still offers this type of environment. Next year, UWF science and engineering students will have a new place to call home: the new School of Science and Engineering Building complex located on the main campus in Pensacola.

When asked what advice she would give students today who were looking to study one of the disciplines in the School of Science and Engineering, Bourg offered the following suggestions:

“Major in computer science or electrical engineering instead of math or physics unless you want to be a teacher or a professor; you can always double major,” she advises. “Don’t neglect your writing courses. You need to know how to write and spell in order to be a good engineer. There’s more documentation required than you might realize. Also, skills in public speaking are good to have, because you will be expected to get up in front of people (peers, managers and customers) and present your designs at reviews. Try and find time to take a few accounting and finance courses. Engineers are business people, too.”

To learn more about the School of Science and Engineering, visit To learn more about the grand opening, visit or contact Gretchen VanValkenburg at (850) 474-2878 or e-mail

Written by Lauren Smith, University Marketing Communications