Gerard W Bennett

B.S.A.E. 2017

What is your next adventure?

After graduation, I will start a fellowship with Sandia National Labs in New Mexico with their missile navigation control group. Then, in the fall, I’ll be coming back to Georgia Tech to earn my MS Professor Eric Johnson. The Lab will be paying for to get my MS and I’ll be working there during the summers while I pursue my degree.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?

I interned for two summers at Sandia and I was able to learn a lot and build connections that really helped me. When I first went there, I wasn’t that far into the AE curriculum, so I didn’t know if I’d be interested in controls, systems engineering, in propulsion…really, anything. So I used the internship to expose myself to as many different jobs as possible. That’s when controls became really interesting to me. My interest was confirmed when I went back and took Dr. Haddad’s controls course. It combined everything I wanted to do in AE. It showed me that you combine everything you are doing into your control system. Also, for the last three semesters, I have been working in Dr. Johnson’s UAV Research Facility, focusing on guidance algorithms that will allow you to pick up and deliver packages.

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?

The I am most excited about delving deeper into the details of control theory. As an undergrad, you really just scratch the surface enough to appreciate the depth that’s possible. In grad school you get to  go through all of the derivations and build your knowledge from the ground up.  At Sandia, I’ll be able to take my design work and see it apply to the field. That means a lot to me, because we’ll be working on projects that are integral to national security.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goal?

I would have to say that it all starts with the rigor of the school. We havea reputation that we deserve. I came in as a freshman expecting to work really hard, and I did. And I know now that I wouldn’t have learned as much if the school hadn’t pushed me so hard.All of the professors have done a great job of making sure that we don’t do the bare minimum. They expect us to go farther, to have a true grasp of the impact of what we are learning.

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?

I would say get involved as much as possible, especially with research and a related club, because having hands-on experience really helps you to see what you like and what you have to work harder to master. At Sandia and in my research, I saw what other people were doingon a daily basis and I had access to research papers and to people who were delving into things. It all built up my interest beyond what it would be if I’d just stuck to theoretical learning.