After you graduate, what is your next adventure?
I will be moving to Everett, Washington the week after graduation to take a job as a flight controls engineer at Boeing.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I won't be worrying about homework and tests anymore. I can just enjoy working, exploring Seattle, and spending time with my cats.
I'll probably be working on the 737 Max, so I know that my job will touch on a very relevant topic. For me, it's exciting because I can see it from an engineering standpoint, but also from the standpoint of being a pilot and a passenger. I've got an investment in all three. The hype doesn't get to me. I see it all as a worthy challenge.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I did research with three different research faculty on three different subjects: aircraft landing, ground traffic modeling, and quad copter design & assembly. All of them were interesting, but I was more interested in getting real-world experience, which is what I got from the five semesters I spent on internships.
My first internship was as a systems engineer at MOOG, in Buffalo, New York. I was setting up an iron bird lab, and doing overnight certification testing for Embraer. The lab was open 24/7 so I was on for 13 shifts, off for one.
After that, I did two internships with GE - one in Ohio and the other in Kansas. In the first one I was doing casting technology engineering for the turbine blade manufacturing unit. In Kansas, I worked as a propulsion engineer, checking engines that came in either for inspection or because they had a bird strike or another problem. We were diagnosing engine problems, and following up with suggestions for fixes.
My last internship - for Garmin in Kansas - was as an aviation flight and test engineer.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
Georgia Tech has introduced me to some very interesting fields within the discipline of aerospace engineering. From the internships to the research, and the classes, I got the chance to try them out, to see which ones I really liked. The hands-on experience I got from Yellow Jackets Flying Club and from my internships reminded me of my home airport [in Ohio], where [as a pilot] I was always tinkering on planes because I loved flying.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Try as many things as you can. College offers you the ability to test many different fields and careers in a short period of time. At Tech, you will meet up with great peers and mentors -- in classes, in clubs, wherever. And they may not be formal mentors, but they can get you through the tough parts. What you get out of a mentor is what ask for. In my case, I had a tendency to bite off more than I could chew -- or I thought so at the time - and my mentors kind of talked me off the ledge.