Jackie Tu

B.S.A.E. 2021

What is your next adventure?

At the end of January next year, I will be working full-time with Lockheed Martin as an aeronautical associate in Marietta, Georgia. Specifically, I'll be working in the structures division as a durability and damage tolerance analysis engineer, so I’ll get to work on projects involving analyzing crack growth and performing fatigue analysis for Lockheed’s aircraft.

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

I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to work in Skunk Works because that's been a dream of mine since coming to Georgia Tech. Skunk Works is Lockheed’s Advanced Development Program that developed the SR-71 Blackbird, F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning, and so many others as well. Having the opportunity to work on developing new aircraft is super exciting to me and I’m especially excited because Skunk Works used to only be in Palmdale, California but now they're branching out to Georgia.

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

During my first year at Tech, I did research with Prof. Brian German working on electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft which sparked my interest in aerospace, especially airplanes. I liked the hands-on aspect because in high school I didn’t have exposure to any engineering classes, so it was nice to get to physically build planes and see things come to life.

Then, that following summer, I interned as a design reconfiguration engineering for HAECO Americas. I worked on HAECO’s interior aircraft section which focused on designing seats, overhead bins, galleys, etc. for various airline customers. There I got exposure to both cad and systems engineering. I got to rewrite their engineering design process standard operating procedure while also working on updating drawings and parts in SolidWorks.

Then, the summer after sophomore year I started my co-op with Delta Air Lines as an Airbus structures co-op within their fleet engineering department. I ended up spending four rotations or four semesters for a total of two-and-a-half years at Delta. The team I worked on created projects that help to maintain and inspect all of Delta's Airbus planes from a structural standpoint. That experience was cool to me because I got to work on the operations side of aerospace and see the big picture of the business. It was really motivating to know that what I was doing was helping to connect people around the world and keeping them safe while flying.

Then, in the summer of 2020, I interned with Lockheed Martin where I worked as a durability and damage tolerance analysis intern, specifically on the C-130 and C-5 aircraft. My project was to determine how close in proximity would you place two skin patch repairs in order to prevent high stress fields from forming on the fuselage of a C-5. I ran a lot of simulations with finite element analysis and got to learn about the theories and concepts behind FEA which is something that is usually not taught until you're in grad school, so it was nice to gain exposure to that in my undergrad.

Finally, I interned at Blue Origin this past summer as an integrated test operations intern on the New Glenn business unit. I got to work on analyzing thermodynamics and fluid mechanics of pressure tanks which was completely different than anything I’ve done previously. All of my other internships were focused on structures of fixed wing aircraft; however, I was sad at the idea that I would leave Georgia Tech with an aerospace engineering degree without ever experiencing working in the space industry, so I really wanted to try it out and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. I fulfilled my desire to work on rockets and also got to intern with three other GT AE female students.

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

.I think being at Georgia Tech allowed me to be exposed to so many new things. I’m from Dublin, Ohio which is a pretty small town compared to Atlanta. I didn’t go to a STEM high school, so I didn't really know much about engineering, but I knew I really liked physics and I really liked airplanes, so I knew that’s what I ultimately wanted to study. (Shoutout to my high school physics teacher Mr. Scott for helping me find my love for physics and my drive for understanding how the world works). Once I got to Tech and began taking classes and getting acclimated to campus, I could tell that it didn’t matter which engineering major you chose, there are endless possibilities available here. That really pushed me to take advantage of every opportunity I had, whether that was working hard in my classes to pursuing internships and co-ops to joining organizations I am passionate about like Society of Women Engineers (SWE) or School of Aerospace Engineering Student Advisory Council (SAESAC) or Sigma Gamma Tau (SGT). I think Georgia Tech really let me thrive and become the best version of myself.

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

Be your own biggest supporter and advocate for yourself. Aerospace engineering is really tough, but that shouldn't scare you because it is 100% worth pursuing. It’s one of the coolest and most innovative majors out there, and there are no limits of what you can pursue in aerospace. You can make whatever you want to do work once you have this degree.

It takes a lot to get through the program, but it speaks volumes about the people who can make it through, so set your goals highwork hard, and believe in your abilitiesYou got this!