Eliezer Zavala Gonzalez

B.S.A.E. 2023

What is your next adventure? 
I'll be coming back to complete my master's in aerospace and will be joining the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL). I'll be doing a systems design optimization concentration as a graduate research assistant with Professor Dimitri Mavris. 

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
Getting a master's is not something that you do because you have to; it’s something that you want to do. I'm really looking forward to taking classes that align with my interests, but also perhaps employing a shift in perspective on education itself. For many people my age, all we've done is school to this point. So, I want to change my perspective since I will be working as a graduate research assistant. I'm looking forward to making that paradigm shift from student to student and employee.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I had an internship at Boeing this past summer and was on the flight deck crew operations team. It was mostly a systems engineering position where you have a bird's eye view of everything that goes on in the flight deck. The flight deck is everything that's in front of the door that the pilots go into, everything in front of the pilots. I really enjoyed that, rather than pinpointing one specific ability or a scale on aerodynamics or propulsion or anything else. I really like the idea of having more of a broad perspective of everything and being a master of all. So, I believe that this systems engineering master’s degree will really help me hone in on that scale of understanding of the product throughout its entire cycle from concept all the way to even recycling at the end.

After my first year, I interned at Northrop Grumman as a manufacturing engineering intern. It exposed me to all of the different manufacturing processes.

I also completed three semesters of research. Two of them were focused on hypersonic vehicles which was a lot of fun. One of them was at Georgia Tech Lorraine, which focused on indoor air quality and carbon dioxide estimation. It was a very good opportunity to pursue given that I was studying abroad, and it was also counted for credit for my BS/MS degree.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
Having the freedom to explore the different avenues of interest really helped me hone in on exactly what I wanted to do. It is a great thing about Georgia Tech. Very early on, the introductory courses show you a very good snippet or teaser of what an aerospace degree encompasses. For example, in AE 1601, you get a good overview of aerospace engineering with spacecraft and aircraft and engineering models. It's those same concepts that you then really delve into in the next couple of courses. And because of that, you understand what you want to pursue.

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Don't be afraid of change, but adapt to your needs and interests. Don’t just stick to the status quo. Don't compare yourself to others. For example, if a lot of people are taking a set of classes in a certain order don't be afraid to change it up because you want to take a specific class with another professor, or because you have other interests in mind, whether it be study abroad, having more time for extracurriculars or for any other reason, don't be afraid to venture out. Just follow your gut and forge your own path because once you do that, you will really achieve your fullest potential by finding exactly what you want to do.