Lane Dillon

M.S.A.E. 2021

What is your next adventure?

’m starting at ABL Space Systems at El Segundo, California as a systems and operations engineer. I’ll be testing, developing, and operating rocket engines.

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

I’m most excited about having the opportunity to launch rockets, work with hardware and build things. I like seeing things through and doing hands-on work. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to join a startup. I’m excited for the startup culture and to get the opportunity to work on engines and launch vehicles and see those projects from start to finish.

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

As an undergraduate student at Syracuse I interned at Tesla as an industrial engineer. Once I started my master's at Georgia Tech I did research at the Ben T. Zinn Combustion Lab with Prof. Tim Lieuwen and then worked as a graduate research assistant. At the combustion lab I worked diagnostics and design projects for the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), Raytheon Technologies, and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). 

I later worked at the AFRL in Dayton, Ohio as a propulsion research engineer. I worked with a team that experimented on an afterburner to better understand how fuel types operate under different engine conditions. My job was to do the diagnostics and imagining using laser and then process the data and relay that information. 

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

From an education standpoint, Georgia Tech really focuses a lot on the theoretical side and having that base really allowed me to gain a good understanding of what I was going to do and use and apply it. Along with that, I think one of the biggest things is the rigor that Tech has. It gives you the drive to push through and that's really been helpful for me and where I am now. It showed me that I can continue even though I thought I had reached my threshold in terms of information and learning. That’s one thing Tech is really good, though at the time I didn't think it was good, now I can appreciate it and understand that it made me better.  

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

I would say probably the biggest thing is to work on being a well-rounded individual. You can go to Tech and work hard in the classroom to get a 4.0 GPA, but once you get into the field that 4.0 is not likely going to get you very far because you have to be really good at communication with people, interfacing with hardware, and so many other things that happen outside of the classroom.

Another thing I would recommend is to get involved in research labs or something where you're actually applying the skills you learned as a student because once you get into industry you're not going to be solving math problems like you do in school, it's going to be much more interfacing with hardware and having a good understanding of the nuts and bolts work will really set you apart.