Caitlin S. Berrigan
Next Adventure: I will be working as a flight control systems engineer at Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kansas. I'll also be earning my masters in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech through the Distance Learning program under the guidance of Dr. Prasad.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
My first internship was at an automotive company in Grasslake, Michigan. I got a lot of production quality experience there. I also did some research for Dr. Costello --basic testing of a new wind turbine - my sophomore year. Then, I got a call out of the blue from Sikorsky, asking if I wanted to do a summer internship. They had gotten my resume at one of the career fairs and my research experience made me stand out. I worked in their flight controls group, and from there, I got into research with Dr. Prasad.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I'm excited to be able to apply stuff I learned in class and from research. And Textron is a great company. They are sponsoring my graduate program and they are even helping me get my pilot's license. I'm fortunate. Not everyone gets what they want straight out of college, but I got the perfect job.
How did your educational experience at GT-AE help you achieve your goal?
The professors - and everybody, really -- are so supportive. Once you get past the idea that you are 'just a student', you see that they are all willing to help you. And I mean really help you. I didn't know a thing about applying to grad school so I went to Dr. Jagoda. He didn't know me, but that didn't matter. He helped me. And I think that that's true for all of the professors I've met. No one's ever too busy to help you.
What advice would you give to underclassmen who would like to follow the same path?
Two things. One, do research. It's really important. Two, talk to a faculty or an academic advisor if you are freaking out over the work. At the end of my freshman year, I was thinking of transferring to ISYE because I just didn't think I could learn everything in the curriculum. I sent an email to Dr. Clarke, and he told me not to worry. He offered to give me some work in his lab. He even offered to Skype me so I could talk about it. That meant everything to me. And the thing is, he was returning my email at 2 in the morning. That's dedication.