Mechanical engineering graduate earns Ingalls' Rising Star Award

March 2012 By

Right after Ines E. "Vivi" Sampayo Rohrer (BSME 07) earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, the University of Mississippi graduate was already well on her way to a successful career. Starting as an entry-level mechanical engineer at Huntington Ingalls Industries, she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her participation and leadership in engineering initiatives.

Rohrer was promoted to Engineer Mechanical III in the Fleet Sustainment Engineering Department at the Pascagoula facility (formerly Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding). For her achievements, Rohrer received the Technology Rising Star Award at the company's 16th annual Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Conference.

"Rising Stars are young women (employed for about one to 22 years) who are helping to shape technology for the future," said Rohrer, who also earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Alabama, later on working as an adjunct instructor in the mechanical engineering department there. "I was not able to attend the conference to receive my award due to the birth of my newborn (Cecilia Sofia) four days prior to the conference. The certificate was mailed to me, and a luncheon was held for us at the company with the engineering VP."

Rohrer's achievements include leading the CG47 Class Aluminum Superstructure Repair Task Force project to investigate cracking and sensitization issues onboard U.S. Navy Aegis ships. The 90-day study involved many organizations within Ingalls Shipbuilding as well as several Navy organizations. This collaboration led to inventive solutions to repair cracks as well as groundbreaking techniques to prevent future cracking.

"I have had the honor of being recognized by the U.S. Navy numerous times for valuable support on this issue, in addition to other highly visible projects," Rohrer said. She also led all structural efforts and system integration for the CG47 Class Electro-Optical Sight System relocation, and has conducted and applied research to planning, design, development and testing for ship systems for CG47 guided missile cruiser and LPD17 surface class ships.

Her work responsibilities require using standard engineering techniques, procedures and criteria. Rohrer performs finite element analyses for existing or proposed structural modifications to support equipment integration, combat systems weapons and hull strengthening under shock environment. She also developed a shear bolt sizing design table to help choose bolts for sway braces to sustain equipment and maintain shock requirements and crew safety.

"I mentor new hires and interns to ensure that they acquire the necessary knowledge to perform their work duties and am currently exposed to manager training within the Naval Arc/Structural Engineering group," Rohrer added.

Rohrer's skills and abilities are admired by her colleagues.

"Ines has a very positive, charismatic attitude, which makes it a pleasure for her co-workers to collaborate on projects," said Michael Williams, Manager II of Marine/HVAC Engineering at Ingalls. "This extends into her community service projects, which include Hispanic individuals here in the shipyard and the Society of Women Engineers. During annual Engineering Week, she spoke to high school students who expressed an interest in finding out what engineers do and how they might become one in the future."

Rohrer credits UM mechanical engineering professors Ellen Lackey and James Vaughan with instilling within her a passion and desire to work with materials and material science. Tyrus McCarty, associate engineering professor, provided insights into the concepts of finite element analyses, which has become one of Rohrer's greatest interests.

"My master's thesis focused on 'Dynamic Finite Element Analysis of Stress and Fracture in IM7/8552 Monolithic Composite Laminates under Impact Loading Conditions,' which combines all of the knowledge that I learned from these three individuals," she said.

McCarty, who is also assistant dean of special initiatives in the engineering school, said Rohrer was always an exceptional student with the potential for greatness waiting to be unharnessed.

"Ines was one of our very outstanding students while here at the university who was hardworking and achieved excellence in all that she accomplished while here," McCarty said. "Her recognition is a great indication that we are providing our students with an education that allows them to go out into the real world and make a tremendous impact on society."

Born in Colombia, South America, Rohrer resides in Mobile, Ala. She is married to John Rohrer, a Systems Test II Engineer at Ingalls. Her parents are Cecilia and the late Antonio Sampayo of Jackson.

For more information about the Department of Mechanical Engineering, visit