What is your next adventure?
In August, I'll move to Seattle to work for Boeing to do model based systems engineering [MBSE] using SysML, a software language that I learned to use in the ASDL.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
This will be the first time I've flown on a commercial airplane. I've been on a Cessna, but that's it. When I get out there, it'll be a new experience all around, which is a little scary, but I look forward to the challenge. I'm ready to break out the skills and knowledge I gained at Tech and use them. Boeing is helping me re-locate, and a guy I interned with is coming to work for Boeing next February. I'm looking forward to exploring so many new things.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
Before I transferred into Tech, I did a summer internship at Gulfstream in Savannah. I worked at their Integration Testing Facility as a systems engineer. It was a great experience. My co-workers taught me a lot. About three weeks after I got to Tech, I went to the ASDL where I saw all of their projects on display. I immediately emailed one of the research engineers, Dr. Steven Edwards, and asked if I could work with him. That semester I worked on a team that was exploring the possible use of an open source software, VSP [Virtual Sketch Pad] to simulate the mechanics and propellant tanks of launch vehicles. In the spring of that year, I worked with another research engineer, Russell Peak, to model the relationship between a UAV and an aircraft carrier using MSBE. In the fall, I made the conscious decision to take on a heavy courseload so I audited the research just for fun. No credit, but it was so interesting and I wanted to see the project through.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goal?
I came to Georgia Tech strictly to study aircraft, but along the way some faculty showed me that space is cool, too. Now I can't choose, and I think that's great. I'll work at Boeing and see where that takes me.
Georgia Tech is so open with students with career guidance and research opportunities. The faculty know the industry and they know what applications are being used. My research faculty gave me the opportunity to explore different sides of engineering. What I learned from this didn't just apply to aerospace engineering. It's systems engineering, which has broad applications. Dr. German taught me so much about fixed wing aircraft. Dr. Lightsey helped me to decide to do what I wanted. He convinced me that if my heart was in the game, I should go for it. If not, you can still gain experience.
One of my goals when I transferred to AE was to get into Sigma Gamma Tau [the AE honor society] and I was able to do that. I also got involved in the student chapter of AIAA, which kept me connected to our profession.
I got a lot of support from the non-aerospace clubs and organizations I joined. Phi Sigma Pi was like my family, and, through them, I took on different roles -- Leadership Chair, Fundraising Chair, Vice President, and even Parliamentarian -- that taught me a lot. I was also a member of Circle K, the collegiate version of the Kiwannis Club, which emphasizes volunteerism. That became a passion. And I was also a member of GT CRU, a Christian fellowship organization that helped me a lot.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Definitely don't be afraid to take your time. It's your education and you are the one learning. I made the decision to split my time for different things. Some semesters, I just concentrated more on course work. Other semesters, I did more research. My last semester, I spent time on my clubs and student organizations. They were my support community and I was glad to be involved with them.
The other thing is, don't suffer under the delusion that you are not smart enough. If you got into Tech, you are smart enough. I had to convince myself of this sometimes. Asking others for help made it easier to get there. So don't be afraid to ask for help. It's there.