Current title: Senior Engineer, Electronics Development
School attended: Wichita State University
What sparked your interest in engineering?
I always excelled in math and science. My dad, being an engineer, helped me see engineering as a potential career path. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I decided I wanted to try it out and see if it was something in which I’d be interested. I crammed in all the engineering courses my high school offered in those last two years.
One class was an introduction to electronics and I loved it. I liked learning about bread boarding, soldering, and logic gates. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue electrical engineering as a career.
What was the biggest lesson you learned about becoming an engineer in college? Does that still ring true being in the workforce now?
In college it’s a lot of theory. You get this notion that your career is going to be complex math all the time. That hasn’t really been my experience in the industry. My job feels like a ton of little jobs. Using the theory I learned in college is only a small part of that.
Did your education prepare you for your job?
My college education prepared me for my job by giving me the critical thinking skills and electrical theory necessary to have a strong foundation coming into the workforce. I have to say it didn’t prepare me as much as I was initially expecting. Now that I’ve been in the industry for some time, I realize there isn’t a good way to fully prepare engineering students because the fields are so broad. I think your college education gives you the necessary building blocks to start. It can be hard to see that at first when you’re overwhelmed by the number of things you don’t know coming out of college.
Tell us about your first job. What did you learn there that you couldn’t have learned in the classroom?
My first job was a real eye opener into the world of engineering. I started as an intern in Textron Aviation’s Special Missions and Defense department. Everything got overwhelming very quickly, and I felt like maybe I wasn’t cut out for this career. The most important thing I learned from that job is that it’s ok to not know everything. In the field, you have all these resources, constantly at your fingertips, along with help from your team. It’s also enlightening to physically try a solution and learn from your mistakes, that’s something that’s hard to do in a classroom setting.
As a senior engineer, what does an average day look like for you?
Every single day is different. An ideal day starts with catching up on emails and the flight reports from the previous day. If there are any issues with our aircraft while flight testing, they will document it in the flight report. Reviewing them can help us get a head start on any design changes. After I’ve caught up on emails, I will jump into the current project I’m working on. Our projects can take years to finish. Depending on where we are in the program will determine whether I’m working a schematic, circuit board layout, software, testing, or documentation. My day also consists of a few meetings and balancing the projects I’m working so my time is allocated efficiently.
What do you enjoy the most about your career field? What are its challenges?
I enjoy the fluid movement within my career field. Every job is different, and no day is ever the same. There is always room to learn and improve, even our industry experts are constantly coming up with new solutions and technologies. Sometimes it can feel like a downside not having a routine and constantly confronting design challenges. Then, as time goes on, you gradually realize new engineers start coming to you for help. That’s when you realize just how much you’ve grown, and it makes it all worth it.
What advice do you have for someone interested in engineering?
Engineering is not easy, but I guarantee it’s rewarding. The work we do as a team amazes me every day. I’d say anyone can be an engineer, but it takes hard work and dedication to be a great engineer. You must keep your end user in mind.
Are you originally from Wichita? What do you enjoy the most about living here?
Yes, I’ve lived in Wichita all my life, and almost all my family lives here as well. I enjoy the big-city vibe with the small-town feel. We live on the outskirts of Wichita. It’s nice we have some land, but we are still right next to a lively city. Wichita has great people and community along with a cool food scene and plenty of entertainment options.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work in Wichita?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, most of which is outdoors and trying new restaurants. I feel like there is always something going on if you take the time to look. In the summers we enjoy the zoos, mini golf, car shows and the drive-in movie theater. In the colder months, we are entertained with hockey games, arcades and the multiple Christmas light displays. Those are just my top favorite things, and I’ve never felt bored with my options here in Wichita.