What is your next adventure?
I am returning to Ridgecrest, California, where I will work as an aerodynamic analyst for the Weapons Division of the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC). Under the terms of my SMART fellowship, I owe them two years. My work will focus on the external aerodynamics of of missiles and bombs. Our team does performance analyses for anyone who comes up with a new concept.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
Other than starting out a new life with my wife - I met her here - it'll be great to get back to the high desert. It's the desert surrounded by mountains, with pristine eastern alpines.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I did CFD at NAWC for five years before I got to Tech, and that helped me to zero in on what I wanted to do here. My research at Tech with Dr. Smith has been on a high-fidelity CFD project related to an interesting phenomenon experienced by missles at high angles of attack. Under the terms of my SMART fellowship and my arrangement with NAWC, I was required to work for NAWC during my summers and any other time I was not in school. So I was back in California a lot, designing research that was coordinated with my boss and my advisor. I had the opportunity to learn a different software tool there -- and I got to test it out at Tech. It was very practical.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goal?
The biggest advantage to going back to school while you are working is not necessarily the specific things you learn. Because even when you learn something well in a book, it doesn't always translate in the world. The thing I got from Tech was the confidence of knowing that, when I was stuck on a problem, I could pick up a textbook -- or two or three -- and figure it out. I was more confident that I could break it down and put it back together. And I could see better, how it fit into the grand scheme.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Well, first of all, grad school wasn't right for me right away. I spent five years at the China Lake Naval Weapon Center in California before I got here. When I did get here, coming in self-funded, through the SMART fellowship, was great. More students should consider applying for a SMART fellowship. Grad school is hard for a lot of reasons, but funding should not be one of them. This fellowship doesn't just give you the funding; it gives you summer internships that turn into a job.