What is your next adventure? Right after graduation, I'm going to do a summer study-abroad program in Greece and Italy. I've never been to Europe, so I am so excited about that. When I get back, I will go to work for Boeing, where I've been accepted into the Engineering Careers Foundation Program, a leadership development program that will allow me to rotate to different parts of the company for the next two years.
What are you most looking forward to in your next adventure? What I love is that 90 percent of my work at Boeing will be as an engineer, but ten percent will be devoted to the leadership program, which they will pay me to budget and manage. That part is really exciting. I will have to decide what sorts of leadership and community service activities I want to pursue. It's a great way for me, as an entry-level engineer, to show leadership and management. For a community service, I already know I want to work with younger under-represented students, to encourage them to get into STEM. As far as the engineering rotations, right now I'm talking with my mentor about three possible initial placements: as an environmental control systems engineer on the 787, as a robotics engineer on the 737, or as a propulsion and structures engineer on the 737 engine.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area that prepared you? I have been involved in research and internships since I got to Tech. Freshman year, I got involved with the Naval Engineer Educational Center project where we simulated a battle manager for a sea-based defense missile using MatLab and Java codes. I did a summer internship at the Reagan Airport - coming up with ways to reduce chemical runoff from the gels they use to melt snow and ice. Sophomore year, I applied for a Boeing summer internship as a structural engineer and I surprised myself by landing it. To prepare, I spent the spring semester doing research for Dr. Rimoli. Junior year, I joined a NASA Grand Challenge project that was looking at asteroid re-direction and mitigation. I also got a job with GTRI, where I've worked ever since- streamlining the electronic defense warfare system for a naval project. Last summer, I did another internship with Boeing - this time working in Long Beach, California. I did finite element modeling on the floor beams of Boeing planes that had been converted into freighters.
What about your educational experience at GT-AE helped you to achieve your goals? I feel like Tech has pushed me to have confidence in myself. My experience here has convinced me that I'm smart enough and have the technical knowledge to attack any engineering problem you put in front of me. The School has given me the resources and support to get good grades, to speak up when I have something to say, and to demand that I be heard.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your path? Have an open mind and be willing to explore new things - whether it's salsa dancing or Indian food. You'll be glad you did. For example, when I worked on that asteroid project, I did a lot of coding. Now, I can tell you that I'll be fine if I never have to code again, but I'll also tell you that I'm glad I did it. It made me more confident. The other thing is: it's really easy to get good at something if you really enjoy it. So find that thing. I love engineering. When I get to the end of a structures problem and I have a good margin in front of me, that makes me really happy.