What is your next adventure?
I accepted a full-time offer from Microsoft in Seattle to join their project management devices team. It's a continuation of what I did as an intern, where they produced the hardware and I worked on the cosmetics -- flush, finishing, dimensioning. I was somewhere between mechanical engineering and industrial engineering and it was a great fit. At first, I was a little confused, so I asked my supervisor 'What do we do?' and he laughed and said 'That's the question you have to answer.'
I will manage certain features and functionalities on the device to improve user experience.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I came to Tech to study aerospace engineering so I could become an astronaut. And I do want to go to space. But I now realize that within 30 years, space tourism will be a viable way of going to space, and I can prepare to be a part of that industry. I don't have to go the astronaut route. I'm not there yet, but Microsoft will be a great place to start. At Microsoft, I can build a professional network that goes around the world. It's a powerful place to start my career. It's a hub for engineering, new ideas, and new technology.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I did four internship rotations as an undergraduate. Sophomre year, I went to GE [General Electric] in Cincinnati to work as a systems tests engineer on the the GE 9X engine. I was testing to learn more about icing and engine performance. We had to throw a frozen turkey through the engine to make sure it could be spit out. My second rotation was also at GE, but I went to Lynn, Massachusetts where I was a manufacturing quality engineer. My next internship was at the EM Corporation in Peachtree City where I was a design engineer, working with my mentor to develop a new modern lighting concept. It's not what I would have expected, but it gave me design experience for the full range of a project, and I got great references. My last internship was at Microsoft, in their new product implementation [division]. That's where I made the connections that led to my job.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
I always wanted to go to Tech, only Tech, but I didn't know how much it would help me until I got here. One of the things that really expanded me was studying abroad. My first experiences was when I was in China for three weeks, working as an operations engineer, doing trade studies to see why a track pad was warped. It was exciting. I also did a semester at GT Lorraine, where I visited 16 or 17 cities over the course of the semester. When I started, I only knew two other Georgia Tech students - from AE -, so this forced me to branch out and meet people from other schools. And that exposed me to new ways of looking at my engineering problems. It also got me to consider how other countries view the United States and forced me to think about how I see the world. The great thing is, with my new job, I have to look at the big picture, to see lots of angles. Going abroad introduced me to a bigger picture.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
First, be bold. Figure out what you want to try, and go for it. Then learn from it. You don't want to spread yourself too thin, but you also don't want to undersell yourself. Your friends can help you keep it in perspective.
And that's another key thing: get a friend group that's in your major and one that's outside of it. I have an aerospace mindset but my closest friends at Tech are ones I met abroad from other schools.
I also learned that an aerospace engineering degree doesn't mean you have to be an aerospace engineer. Learning to solve aerospace engineering problems has made me a better engineer, and I like planes and rockets, but I don't have to stay there. At the heart of it, I'm an engineer. I don't have to limit myself to one application of those skills.
Lastly, have fun. These last two semesters have made me realize that college is the honeymoon in your life. After this, comes work. I may not see a lot of my classmates again after we scatter to our new jobs or grad school, so the last few months, I've been making sure I spend time with my friends, not my video games.