Engineers Week 2016 Profiles

Jose David Edid Garcia, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering/Aero Track

Kerianne Hobbs Gross, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Aaron Rodzinak, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Elijah Brown, B.S. in Computer Engineering

Matt Bender, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Robert Parrish, B.S. Aerospace Engineering

Sidney Jones, B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Laura Grant, B.S. in Computer Engineering

Veronica McGowan, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering


Jose David Edid Garcia

Jose David Edid Garcia with a group of engineers at Embry-Riddle Prescott.

(From Mexico City, Mexico)

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering / Aero Track (Embry-Riddle – Prescott) Fall 2009 - Spring 2013
  • Master of Science in Aerospace Mechanics and Avionics / Advanced Fluid Mechanics & Turbomachinery (Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace) Fall 2013 - Fall 2015.

Current Position

Engineering Intern – Rolls-Royce Plc, Civil Large Engines, Future Programs (Fans & Compressors Sub-System) – Derby, UK

I am currently in a year-long internship at Rolls-Royce Civil Large Engines which involves analysis, methodology determination and code development. Amongst others, my job involves the development of a code used to identify potential compressor noise risks, the creation of a new methodology (and tool) to optimize variable stator vanes (VSV) in high pressure compressors (HPC) and the computation of the optimum length and airfoil counts for the UltraFan® high-pressure compressor.

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

Jose David Edid Garcia hold a model rocket with other Embry-Riddle Prescott students.

I have always loved aviation. My father used to work in AeroMexico’s maintenance training center so I had the opportunity to fly a MD80 simulator when I was four years old, and ever since I have been fascinated with airplanes. Initially I wanted to be a pilot (My uncle is a 737 pilot for AeroMexico), however, when I discovered physics in Junior High-School I soon realized how much more there was to know about science. Therefore, I basically googled the two keywords: aviation and physics and found Aerospace Engineering, which became my passion and career goal.

How have you made a difference in your work?

My biggest accomplishment in Future Programs was my VSV optimization work where I was able to derive a very complex geometrical relationship between the VSV position and the clearance from the vane to the wall of the compressor. This usually required complex CAD simulations which are not feasible for preliminary work. However, through a lot of effort and trial/error I developed an equation which I then coded to replicate detailed work in a matter of minutes. I consider this my greatest achievement since it is a methodology/code which will reduce the workload in Future Programs and will allow to better define high pressure compressors at the preliminary design phase.

Who inspires you professionally?

Definitely Elon Musk. He inspires me to think out of the box and to always aspire for more. In the aerospace industry is very easy to get stuck in the “good old ways” as it is an industry which is heavily regulated. Therefore, sometimes it is challenging to be innovative and push the limits of what exists today. That is why I love my current placement in Future Programs, because we can think about innovative ways to solve challenging problems with the help of very curious and imaginative engineers which defy the conventional image of an engineer. Elon Musk is a reminder that one person can make a difference defying massive companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. 

What has been your favorite engineering project?

My favorite engineering project was my Senior Capstone project with Dr. Thomas Gally. During this project we specified, designed, built and flew a ten foot UAV. I was in charge of performance, aerodynamics, stability and control and propulsion (initially). The reason why I consider this my favorite project is because I consider that this project is what turned me from an enthusiastic student into an engineer. Dr. Gally arranged the project to go through all the system engineering steps which are used in industry (We use the same approach here at Rolls-Royce). The project allowed us to exercise our analytical skills, but demonstrated that engineering goes beyond complicated simulations and scary equations, at the end of the day you design a product which flies people and goods around the world.

 What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

 My advice is make sure you are passionate about it. Make sure you love the field and the applications. Also, talk to people already working in industry to make sure you understand their day-to-day tasks and challenges. Sometimes we get the wrong impression of a job by just browsing on the internet. For example, if you would like to be a design engineer, you will likely spend a lot of time in a design office with a highly skilled team. However, it will not involve as much hands-on experience as most people tend to believe. That is why I consider that talking to professionals, and visiting companies is a great way to get an insight into the life of a professional engineer. This will also help you decide what kind of engineer you want to be, mechanical, design, maintenance; there is plenty to choose!

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

At Embry-Riddle I led the ERAU University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) team, which was a team of fifteen students who designed, built and tested a rocket and payload for NASA. In this project, I was in charge of managing funding and resources to get the job done. It was interesting because at the beginning we had to find our own funding through NASA, but as we proved our determination and success, the College of Engineering provided us more funding and resources to end up building a supersonic rocket capable of reaching 25,000 ft. It was not as easy you may think, handling orders, travels, buying/shipping rocket fuel, etc. was never easy, but it was certainly fun!

As you can imagine, starting in a massive company, such as Rolls-Royce, it is not quick to become a leader. However, I feel that my technical knowledge and leadership experience that I acquired at ERAU are allowing me to discuss face-to-face with world-class design specialists and experts, and to be confident while proposing a new innovative idea in front of senior executives in the company.

Due to my heavy load of work I prefer not to become a leader in the community, since I could not dedicate enough time to manage events, fundraisers, etc. but I love getting involved with Derby’s international community, the Nottingham Mexican club, Derby’s salsa dancing club, etc.

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

  • Outstanding Graduate (Spring 2013 Graduation)
  • Chancellor’s Award (Spring 2013 Graduation)
  • ASEE Undergraduate Student Award 2013
  • ISAE-SUPAERO Masters full-right scholarship

I would like to say that I am extremely grateful to Embry-Riddle Prescott, especially the College of Engineering. Especially Dr. Madler, Dr. Hayashibara, Dr. Bordignon and Dr. Gally, they made me into the person who I am today. They gave me their knowledge and patience that turned a hard-working student into a skilled engineer. Even having left ERAU in 2013, they are still helping my through my career and remain in contact every now and then. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and so many other people at ERAU, my home.

Finally I am also extremely grateful to my team at Future Programmes at Rolls-Royce, they have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about me and my career. I could not think of a better place to have started my career at Rolls-Royce.


Kerianne Hobbs Gross

Kerianne Hobbs Gross is an Embry-Riddle Prescott Graduate and a memeber of the United States Air Force.

Education

  • B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ, May 7, 2011
  • M.S. in Astronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, WPAFB, OH, March 24, 2016 (expected)
  • I’ve been accepted into an Aerospace Engineering PhD program and plan to start in Fall 2016.

Current Position

  • Air Force Research Laboratory / Research Aerospace Engineer in Verification and Validation of Complex and Autonomous Systems

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

When I was six years old I went to Space Center Houston with my parents. As I negotiated the metal turnstile at the exit after a day of IMAX movies, interactive exhibits, and tours of the Johnson Space Center, I announced that one day I was going to work for NASA. It was shortly after that trip that I learned the career field I wanted pursue was Aerospace Engineering. I was so passionate about aerospace engineering from the time I was six years old that no one I interacted with throughout my childhood is surprised at who I’ve become. “Yep, that is what she always wanted to do,” they say.

Who inspires you professionally?

I don’t think there is one particular engineer who inspires me professionally. I’ve always drawn inspiration from those around me since I entered engineering, whether they were my classmates at ERAU and AFIT, my colleagues at AFRL and NASA, or those I’ve collaborated with in Industry and Academia. Ever since I started my freshman year in engineering at ERAU, I’ve found myself surrounded by people who are so passionate and capable in the aerospace field that it truly inspires me every day. As an aerospace engineer, I interact with so many impressive and amazing people every day from experts in their scientific field, to pilots and soldiers, to the lawyers and contracting officers to make all of our research possible, that it is hard not to feel some awe and immense appreciation.

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

Whatever you choose for your career, be sure it is something you are passionate about. For me, engineering is a way to make a difference in the world by developing technologies that change lives and continue mankind’s technical advancement. A degree in engineering is one of the hardest degrees to earn, but a career in engineering is probably one of the most rewarding career fields you could enter. Earning a degree in engineering puts you on a trajectory for success in whatever you do in life, because at the core of engineering is learning how to break down and solve complex problems, which is a transferable skill to so many areas of your life and different career fields.

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

ERAU

Horizons Newspaper:

  • Editor in Chief of (2010-2011)
  • Diversions Section Editor (2008-2010)
  • Assistant Diversions Editor (2007-2008)

College of Engineering:

  • Campus Academic Mentor
  • Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department Student Representative for the Chief Academic Officer’s Student Advisory Committee
Admissions:
  • Recruiter, Blogger

AFRL

Research Leadership:

  • 2016: Invited Panelist at the “Assurance of Autonomy Symposium,” 6-7 January 2016, in San Diego, CA representing the Air Force Research Laboratory perspective on “Managing Key Issues for Assured Autonomy”
  • Author of 10 Technical Conference Papers on my research since 2012
  • Presented 13 major technical presentations since 2011, many of which were given to an international audience.
  • Contributing author to the “Autonomy Community of Interest Test and Evaluation, Verification and Validation Working Group Technology Investment Strategy 2015-2018,” Department of Defense Research & Engineering, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Washington DC,  May 2015.
  • Co-author of “Air Force Research Laboratory Test and Evaluation, Verification and Validation of Autonomous Systems Challenge Exploration,” Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, 13 Nov 2014.

Organizational Leadership:

  • 2015–Present: Co-lead of the AFRL Inspire initiative, a recurring event in which AFRL personnel give engaging 10-15 minute talks with limited visual aids on AFRL technologies and workforce development topics; talks given live and recorded for YouTube
  • 2014: Acting program manager of the Automatic Collision Avoidance Technologies Program (Oct – Dec)
  • 2014–2015: Co-founder of Shaping Holistic Innovative Future Technologies (SHIFT) grassroots group; led multidiscipline team ideation workshops focused on AFRL challenges
  • 2014–2015: Member of the Air Force Research Laboratory Continued Technical Development Committee
  • 2013–2015: Founder and leader of Aerospace Systems Directorate Informal Mentoring Program
  • 2013, 2014: President
  • 2012: Vice President of the Aerospace Systems Directorate Junior Force Council

Community:

  • Volunteer for outreach programs, especially those promote STEM outreach to minorities including the annual Girl Scout Aerospace Badge Workshop and Women in Engineering programs
  • Raised nearly $3000 for the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2014; continue to participate in fundraising activities with objective to raise another $3000 in 2016

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

  • Power and Control Division Junior Scientist or Engineer of the Quarter (1 October 2015 – 31 December 2015)
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Commander’s Coin (2015)
  • Aerospace Systems Directorate Director’s Coin (2014)
  • 2014 Air Force Research Laboratory Commander’s Cup (Aerial Collision Avoidance System Team)
  • 2014 Aerospace Systems Directorate Director’s Trophy (Aerial Collision Avoidance System Team)
  • 2014 Collier Trophy Finalist (F-16 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance Team)
  • 2014 Finalist for Best Presentation on “Automatic Collision Avoidance Technologies” at FY15 Air Force Scientific Advisory Board S&T Quality Review, 27-31 October 2014.

Aaron Rodzinak

Aaron Rodzinak is an Aerospace Engineering graduate from Embry-Riddle Prescott.

Education

  • B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

Current Position

  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp./Spacecraft Systems Engineer

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

I originally wanted to be a fighter pilot in the USAF and that’s why I went to Riddle. I was always fascinated by aerospace and so I pursued engineering. I went to the Prescott campus because I was worried about being influenced by “beach activities.” Then in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I saw that fighter pilot slots were harder and harder to guarantee (even for those at the Air Force Academy). Since I already served enlisted as a crew chief for four years previously, I wasn’t interested in being an officer in the USAF unless it came guaranteed with wings. So in my Sophomore-Junior year, I made a very difficult decision to pursue my “back-up career” as an engineer and I must say, it has been very fun and rewarding!

How have you made a difference in your work?

My greatest successes have always come in the form of team wins. I’ve gotten the biggest enjoyment out of working in a synergetic environment to solve problems that one person couldn’t possibly do by themselves. I’ve gotten a few individual awards over the years and sometimes they were merited and other times I wondered why I was singled out to win an award over another dedicated individual … and I actually felt a little guilty. However, I’ve never regretted the team awards because those were always the ones that took the sacrifice of many people to make happen and those are the accomplishments that you can truly share with your colleagues.

Who inspires you professionally?

 I have several mentors with different attributes that I aspire too at work. All of them with a good balance of good technical skills and high interpersonal skills, but if I had to pick one truly outstanding individual that I often use as my “technically-balanced conscience with subtle diplomacy”, I would pick David Mains. He was the best boss that I ever worked with and we have remained friends for over 20 years.

What has been your favorite engineering project?

Working on the Deep Impact program where we designed, built and tested two spacecraft for JPL was probably my favorite. The “Impactor” spacecraft disintegrated into the comet 9P/Tempel 1 on 7/4/2005 and I was really proud to be part of that fireworks show. Next, working on the CloudSat Anomaly Recovery team in 2011 and the years that followed was a close second. Lots of great people on both multi-discipline teams!

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

Ask them if they are driven: by curiosity, by the desire to solve tough technical challenges, to work in team-centered environments with various personalities at play, to work beyond the normal 9 to 5 workday/weekends/ holidays to deliver on time and schedule and finally, to maintain their ethics and professionalism during the most challenging times of their career. If the answer is “yes” to all of the above then they will probably enjoy it.

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

Hmm, I’m not sure how to answer this one and so, I guess I’d say that at different times in my career, I’ve been a group lead and afterwards, I’ve had to adapt and be a follower again. I guess the same goes for in the Prelim and Detail classes at Riddle and in some of the volunteer groups that I’ve been involved with over the years.

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

My favorite team awards were from programs: Deep Impact, WorldView-2, Multi-Spectral Thermal Imager (MTI) and CloudSat.


Elijah Brown

Elijah Brown is a Computer Engineering graduate from Embry-Riddle Prescott and a Cobham Aerospace software engineer.

Education

  • B.S. in Computer Engineering, 2011

Current Position

  • Cobham Aerospace, software engineer

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

Probably as a kid, I always loved taking things apart to see how they work and building things. When I was 9 my Grandpa got me an RC airplane kit and I've been hooked on engineering and airplanes ever since. 

How have you made a difference in your work?

I've been one of a two or three person team for most the projects I've been assigned to at work.  Taking an idea and making it into a finished product is challenging and rewarding at the same time.  Probably the most interesting thing I've worked on so far is the project I'm working on currently, a software defined tactical radio.  I've been involved mostly in writing device drivers, DSP routines, and display software. 

Who inspires you professionally?

Probably my coworkers, some of them are great engineers and I've learned a ton from working with them.  I've also been inspired a lot by some of the engineers in Arizona Near Space Research like Michael Gray. 

What has been your favorite engineering project?

My favorites are probably high altitude balloon projects.  I built APRS tracking beacons and a VHF/UHF repeater.  I did some of these at school and some in my free time after I started working. 

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

If you enjoy making things or learning how stuff works, give it a try.  You don't have to love math and physics, engineering is as much art as it is science.  It's a good job, it's as challenging as you want it to be, and you have the opportunity to change the world in ways no one else can. 

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

I was active in the high altitude balloon group and ham radio club while I was at Embry Riddle.  I have always gravitated to technical positions, not leadership specific stuff.  As an engineer I'm more interested in making things and solving technical problems than in leadership. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that getting a degree at Embry Riddle has turned out to be a huge success for me.  The opportunities to participate in hands-on projects like the high altitude balloons and stuff like EagleSAT gave me a chance to develop real world engineering skills and connect with people in industry.  I'm thankful for the scholarships that were available and made attending financially possible. 


Matt Bender

Education

  • B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, Embry-Riddle Prescott 2011
  • Ph.D. Student at Virginia Tech (expected graduation: 05/2017)

Current Position

  • Virginia Tech, Research Assistant/Graduate Student

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed building things and experimenting. I always enjoyed science and math in school, but one of the driving factors which pushed me into engineering was watching the movie Apollo 13. I was amazed at what bold people could do with slide rules and early computers. The most influential part of the movie was how the team of engineers, scientists, and pilots found solutions to what seemed an impossible problems and returned the astronauts safely to earth.  They embraced the fact that "failure was not an option" solved problems one at a time, and with persistence found a successful ending in spite of the odds. My path towards engineering was finalized after a high school internship in city hall in Oak Harbor Washington. There, I was responsible for land surveying, infrastructure mapping, and drafting of project plans. This internship gave me the introduction to engineering that I needed to finalize my decision to become an engineer. I particularly enjoyed always pushing the limits of my education.  Upon starting my internship, my only engineering skill was computer aided drafting, but as any engineer will probably tell you, all an engineer really needs to know is how to learn. All my further experience was gathered on the job.  I think many engineers that have gone on to industry can relate to this: all engineering education gives you are the fundamentals, and what they really teach you is how to learn anything you need to to get the job done. 

How have you made a difference in your work?

My greatest accomplishment is underway right now. I am currently working on finishing my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. Completing my degree will allow me to pursue a career in academia or in industry focused on advancing the state of the art in technology.

Who inspires you professionally?

My favorite engineer was Robert Goddard. He has been called the godfather of modern space flight due to his research in rocket technology. One of Prof. Goddard's famous quotes is,"it is difficult to say what is impossible. The dreams of yesterday are the hopes of today and the realities of tomorrow." As we look at history this is undoubtedly true. Six hundred years ago it was impossible to sail around the world. Three hundred years ago it was impossible to harness electricity in a usable form. One hundred years ago it was impossible to put a man on the moon.  Today we hold in our pockets a device which has more processing power than all of NASA had when they put a man on the moon, and it will take you (virtually of course) to the opposite side of the world in 7 seconds or less.  That device would be your cell phone.

What has been your favorite engineering project?

The Jet Dragster Project at ERAU. How many people can say they built a jet car in college? I can.

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

If you are in high school right now, try to get involved in courses and extracurricular activities that will give you an introduction to engineering. FIRST robotics is a great way to start learning the design process and how to work in a team. These experiences are indispensable in determining whether engineering is right for you. Also, take the hardest math classes that you can bear.  Math is the foundation of physics and engineering and a solid background will serve you well in college. If you are about to enter college, call or email the counseling center at ERAU and see if you can diversify your schedule and take courses in engineering and another discipline and see what you like.  Finally, when you get to ERAU, go to the club fair and get involved in any design projects that you can. Don't worry about not having experience. Chances are none of the leaders in the club had experience before they joined either. 

How were/are you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

At ERAU I was one of the founding members of the Jet Dragster project, I conducted research with professors, and I was the president of Sigma Gamma Tau, the aerospace engineering honor society for one year.

At VT I was one of the founding members of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student council and I am leading the development of a low-cost multi-camera motion capture system used in my research. The MEGSC is responsible for hosting social events for ME graduate students and staff.  The motion capture array is a part of my research and is being developed as a partnership between Shandong University in Jinan China and VT. The project is run by 10VT undergrads, 3 VT grad students, 3 SDU grad students and 10 SDU undergraduate students. I am currently the leader of this project and have gone to China in the summers of 2014 and 2015, and will go again this summer.  

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

I have received the NSF EAPSI (Eastern Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes) fellowship to fund my research in China for the summer of 2015. I have also published 4 papers since starting graduate school.


Robert Parrish

Embry-Riddle Prescott Aerospace Engineering graduate Robert Parrish works for Boeing.

Education

  • B.S. Aerospace Engineering, Prescott 2010

Current Position

  • Boeing / Wind Tunnel Test & Evaluation Engineer

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

I started to become interested in how machines and structures worked when I was in high school.  I took a CAD class in 11th grade and really enjoyed the methodical, analytical design process.  Engineering was a natural fit, and I later narrowed my focus to aerospace engineering when my girlfriend (now wife) shared her passion for aviation with me.

How have you made a difference in your work?

Last year I expanded my role as a test engineer while serving as project manager for the final high-speed wind tunnel test of the proposed 777X airplane.  It was an adjustment at first from my normally technical work, but my experiences coordinating with other teams, analyzing data, and presenting complex information served me well in the new role.  In particular, the relationships I had built with teammates on prior projects went a long way in helping motivate the team and root out issues at their earliest stages.  Overall, the program achieved all test objectives while finishing on schedule and under budget.

Who inspires you professionally?

Embry-Riddle Prescott Aerospace Engineering graduate Robert Parrish works for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The story of Ed Wells in his early years at Boeing is really inspiring as a young engineer. He was hired at Boeing when he was 21 and by 24 was project engineer and lead designer on the airplane that eventually became the B-17. The fate of the company essentially rested on Wells, and he designed a phenomenal airplane. I like to keep his story in mind and dive head first into new projects at work. As a young engineer it pays dividends to always volunteer or ask for the most challenging assignments, and you’d be surprised the opportunities that eventually make it your way.

What has been your favorite engineering project?

I was part of a small team that developed a new mounting system for Boeing’s transonic wind tunnel in Seattle.  The system uses two roll motors and a traversing strut to allow the operator to move a wind tunnel model in pitch, yaw, or roll about the center of the test section with exceptional accuracy. The project was extremely challenging from a math, controls and data reduction standpoint, and definitely required some “brushing up” of subjects I hadn’t touched in several years.

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

Engineering is a really diverse industry, and with an engineering degree you can do a thousand different things. If you’re analytical, a good problem solver, and like to do things better, then you can be a great engineer. Make hard work your routine and you will be one.

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

There were so many passionate students at Embry-Riddle when I was in school that every project was like being in a group of team leaders, which can make it tough for everyone to get their turn at leading. I typically sought lead roles in smaller groups and let larger personalities rule the biggest projects, but I always made sure our work was polished and accurate no matter my role.  I’ve found that at work there are actually fewer people willing to take lead roles, which has allowed me to stand out as a capable project leader. In my experience, ERAU grads have carved this niche wherever they work at Boeing.  Currently, I am pursuing a mentorship program with STEM students at a local high school.  I have also attended several ERAU events in the Seattle area to speak with prospective students.

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

I was recognized by senior management for helping to develop and implement a new mounting system in our Seattle wind tunnel, and again by a program manager for leading several tests of a defense project that utilized our new mounting capability.


Sidney Jones

Sidney Jones is an Electrical Engineering graduate from Embry-Riddle Prescott.

Education

  • B.S. in Electrical Engineering

Current Position

  • Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer?

I didn’t decide to become an engineer until my senior year of high school. Even as an incoming freshman I was still unsure of which type of engineering I wanted to do. The first semester of college and the Intro to Engineering course really helped me decide on electrical engineering.

How have you made a difference in your work?

Being a university affiliated center, a lot of work done here is in the very early stages of development, meaning it may be a long time before it is ready to go to production. However, one of my projects allows me to work on technology that is being used in the field today. This allows me to feel like I am contributing because I know the work I am doing has an immediate effect on people.

Who inspires you professionally?

I have met a lot of very successful people here at APL, all of which continue to do amazing things. Just working at the lab inspires me to keep working hard and to continue learning.

What has been your favorite engineering project?

One thing I am excited about is being able to attend a field test at the end of the month. The field test includes working at the test site for a week and testing some of the ideas that have been developed in the lab and seeing how they work in a more realistic environment.

What advice do you have for those entering engineering?

Earning your engineering degree is hard work, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is a very rewarding career and can be a lot of fun if you find an area that you are passionate about.

How were you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

While a student at Embry Riddle, I was a part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) club on campus. Now having graduated, I have joined the SWE@APL group. One of the areas I am currently involved in is promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to high school aged girls by mentoring an all-girls FIRST robotics team. 


Laura Grant

Embry-Riddle Prescott Computer Engineering graduate Laura Grant works for Honeywell Aerospace.

Education

  • Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering

Current Job

  • Honeywell Aerospace, Systems Engineer II

When did you first know you wanted to be an engineer? An event? A teacher/neighbor? A toy or school assignment?

I cannot attribute an epiphany moment to first knowing when I wanted to be an engineer, because I give credit to the encouragement of my parents and several teachers along the way. Over the years, with each science fair project or class assignment, my topics were geared towards a type of engineering – mainly from rocketry to airplanes. However, I could say a crucial step was when my 8th grade teacher recognized my potential and sent me to the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair. Although I was an honorable mention at my school level, he pushed my home made wind tunnel and airfoil experiment on to the AzSEF and gave me valuable life experience, showing me insight into the engineering world.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment(s) in your work or how have you made a difference so far?

My greatest accomplishment stems from the support of the team in which I was hired into. Coming into a legacy system at Honeywell, I gained knowledge and experience quickly through senior team members in order to contribute to Boeing 787 Maintenance Systems as soon as possible. Within my quickly-passing three years at Honeywell so far, I have participated in the Software Development Life Cycle 6 times through and am proud to be thrown into the midst of the Boeing 777x Program currently.

Throughout my three years, I have been instrumental in maintaining our schedule considering the required artifacts and different people essential to complete a task. I have also strengthened customer relations when sent onsite to Seattle by assisting the development team in debugging builds. My attention to detail ensures our certification documentation is delivered with the highest quality. As System Lead, I will grow into even greater knowledge of the Maintenance System functionality and play a key role in the shape of our design.

Who is your favorite engineer or who inspires you professionally?

Laura Grant works for Honeywell Aerospace.

As a kid I looked up to Wernher von Braun, movies like October Sky, and I was around many pilots and engineering-minded types. I will say I gained many of my professional attributes from my time at ERAU, from the faculty who had served in the industry and those who worked in research and the focal in career services who prepared me for getting a job. Currently, I am inspired by the team members I work with. I see the many, long hours they put in and I want to match their quality of work. Majority of my team members have been with Honeywell from ten to fifteen years and their dedication and attitudes have inspired me on days when I feel the work is too overwhelming.

What has been your favorite engineering project?

I have greatly enjoyed my time on the Boeing 787. Being part of the Maintenance System, it combines my education in computer and software engineering with my curiosity of airplane safety, putting myAviation Safety minor to good use. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work each part of the Life Cycle, so I’ve been able to enjoy everything from documentation to prototyping, from coding to satisfying certification requirements for the FAA. I have come to know a global team while working this project, members from China and India, which has been a fun cultural aspect and brings levity to demanding work.

What advice do you have for young people trying to decide if engineering is the right path for them?

Engineering is not all about the education, or the math and science driving it. I’ve learned that the greater lesson over time is perseverance and having that innate thirst for discovery and improving the quality of a thing or an approach. Engineering is about having technical creativity in trying different combinations, with the science and math behind that ingenuity to support it.

How were/are you a leader at Embry-Riddle? In your current work? In your community?

During my time at Embry-Riddle, I was involved in several on-campus jobs. My greatest accomplishment was working in the Disability Support Services department, as the assistant, note taker, test proctor, and software support. I also worked the ground startup of the Hacker Lab and as an assistant web developer for the ERAU website. By placing myself in those leadership roles at ERAU, I gained many skills which I use in my current work. Transitioning to 777x, I am the Systems Lead for one of the Maintenance Systems functions. With my team, I work with the Boeing customer to ensure documentation is accurate, requirements are established and implemented, code builds are delivered on time and proper testing and verification is performed with each build. I am instrumental in the certification process to ensure 1-3 year long programs are finally certified, endorsing Honeywell’s software to run out in the field on the commercial airplanes we use every day.

What awards or nominations have you had thus far in your career?

  • 2016: 787 Appreciation Award, Honeywell
  • 2016: In recognition of: As 787 System Engineer and Lead, Laura performed SIT for all B787 CISMS block points R/L and B/L builds. Worked many late nights to setup SHA-2 testing to make it Right at First Flight.
  • 2015: Bronze Award, Honeywell
  • 2015: 787 CIS/MS Training — For the training provided to the 777x system engineers, your efforts have increased their knowledge on CIS/MS related concepts which will carry over to the 777x program.
  • 2014: Outstanding Engineer or E&T Productivity Awards
  • 2014: A peer-nominated, peer-reviewed individual award that honors engineers who have made outstanding contributions to the success of Honeywell Aerospace.  The award recognizes excellence in design, problem solving, problem avoidance, technical advancement, customer satisfaction, creation of new business opportunities and/or significant cost reduction efforts accomplished from January 2014-December 2014.
  • 2014: Aerospace Project Engineer/Project Management Global Academy Certificate of Completion
  • 2014: Selected through a nomination process, completed six month program for Project Engineer role, in which attended three on site trainings and 49 online webinars, including On the Job Training.
  • 2014: Bronze Award, Honeywell
  • 2014: In Recognition of — Thanks for demonstrating a “can do” attitude and consistently doing whatever it takes to meet customer requirements.  

Veronica McGowan

Embry-Riddle student Veronica McGowan is interning for Virgin Galactic.

Engineering has been a part of Veronica McGowan’s life for quite some time. She remembers going to work with her father, a mechanical engineer, as a child. But she also remembers wanting to be an astronaut.

Along the way, internships and experience on the Eagle Space Flight team helped Veronica further develop her interests. Now the aerospace engineering senior from Michigan is counting down the months until she begins work at Virgin Galactic as a materials and process engineer.

“Virgin Galactic was my dream company,” she said of the “world’s first commercial spaceline.”

While Veronica had applied to larger aerospace engineering universities, she was drawn to Embry-Riddle because of the opportunities afforded to undergraduates. “As an undergraduate, you have access to laboratories … and get hands-on experience you don’t get elsewhere. You’re starting engineering right off the bat.”

Support from committed faculty members is another benefit of an Embry-Riddle education. “You really get to know the professors,” she said. “They will take the additional time to meet with you, and they care about your success as a student.”

And that success doesn’t stop with academics. Veronica has gained additional skills and experience as an active member of the campus community. Through the Campus Ambassador and Woman Ambassador programs, she shares her love of science, Prescott and Embry-Riddle with campus visitors, prospective students and parents. As a Woman Ambassador, she develops mentoring relationships with accepted and enrolled young women as they transition into campus life.