What is your educational background?
I did my undergrad at Virginia Tech in aerospace engineering on the space track. The most fulfilling part of my education there was getting to present our senior design project at NASA’s RASC-AL competition. We worked on designing a vehicle to support a crew on the Moon’s surface. It was a great culmination of our undergraduate careers and also a fantastic introduction to systems engineering.
Did you consider other institutions for the program, and why did you choose Illinois?
I considered other institutions for their aerospace engineering and systems engineering programs. Once I saw that Illinois had an Aerospace Systems Engineering program, I decided that was the right curriculum for me. I really liked that there was a combination of systems engineering, aerospace engineering, and professional development classes.
What made you decide to pursue Aerospace Systems Engineering?
I think there’s a lot of value in being a systems engineer that can understand technical details. Reading about the Aerospace Systems Engineering program made it clear to me that it was perfect for employees that wanted to be the most technically adept systems engineer in the room.
What type of professional development you want to complete as part of the degree program (project, practicum, or coursework), and why?
I’m planning on completing the professional practicum for the professional development portion. In the short time that I’ve been working full-time, I’ve noticed that there are so many instances of interesting problems and projects that are left on hold since there isn’t the time or the budget to complete them. It would be great to be able to marry the academic and professional side and get the chance to work on one of those problems.
What type of aerospace-related projects are you involved in, if any?
I don’t get to work on many aerospace-related projects outside of work. The most in-depth I worked on an aerospace-related project was my senior design project that I mentioned earlier. I got to experience a lot of different flavors of being an engineer and really focused on designing the electrical and thermal systems, something I never thought I’d do. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I got to learn a ton about a field I knew nothing about.
What do you hope to do with the degree once you earn it?
I hope to apply what I learn in my classes to my everyday tasks as a systems engineer. I don’t expect this to be difficult, since there’s such a variety of classes I’ll be taking. I’ve learned quickly that it’s best to develop a breadth of knowledge and experience during my time as an early-career engineer. The degree fits snugly with that theme.