Nana Obayashi

M.S.A.E. 2016

After graduation, what's your next adventure?

I wanted a job that would let me impact the final product design. I’ve been fielding offers throughout the fall, but I have decided to go to Volvo Group Trucks Technology, which has offered me a slot in its Engineering Graduate Program. That program has rotations which will allow me to travel to different locations around the world – Sweden, France, India. It does not start until September, but they are letting me come early. They are giving me a position in the Aerodynamics Feature Team, which supports analysis and helps component development for reducing greenhouse gases.

What about your next adventure are you most excited about?

I am most excited that I found a position that will fully use the skills I learned in school. I wanted to have a position that would allow me to have a direct impact on the final design and I think that’s what I will have with Volvo. I don’t think that’s normally the case with entry-level jobs.

Did you have any previous co-op internship or research experience that helped you get to this point?

I had internships with BMW that showed me what it’s like to be in industry and auto manufacturing in particular. I also had internships with Japan’s space agency and with Dr. Katsuro Inoue at Osaka University. A lot of what I focused on in graduate school, though, was research. I did CFD research with Dr. [Lakshmi] Sankar. That introduced me to aerodynamics and fluid dynamics, which I really enjoyed.

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

I think at Georgia Tech I got to do so many things that were not academics – student organizations like SAESAC, SGT, Yellow Jackets Flying Club, and AHS – that all helped me to grow as a person. And that helps when you go on interviews, because employers want to see you are capable of interacting with others.  In my classes and in my labs I got exposed to so many things, too – design, analysis, and engineering projects. And I was able to study abroad, too – at GT Lorraine and in a language program in Paris and Nice, France. All of these experiences, I believe, opened doors for me. 

What advice would you give a student who was thinking about following your steps at Georgia Tech's aerospace engineering school?

Of course academics are important to focus on, but it’s okay to be a little bit greedy - you should try to explore whatever lets you be a fully balanced person. I started out with just one focus – to do well in school – but then I let myself have unrelated hobbies, to keep myself balanced. So, when I started my graduate program, I took up classical ballet  - something I studied when I was younger but dropped. That was what I did to completely remove myself from AE, and It seems to have worked. Success is not something you can plan entirely. It’s a happy accident that occurs after you put your heart into what you are doing.