When I was in high school, I was interested in a career in art and math. Ultimately, I wanted a career that combined both of my interests. Surprisingly aerospace engineering does that.
People think engineering is all about math, but the reality is that engineering shares many elements with art. As an engineer, it is important to combine an artistic flare with functionality in a product’s design to appeal to the consumer. In both fields, creativity and aesthetics matter.
It was my natural curiosity in flight that steered me towards Aerospace Engineering. I had always wondered how humanity accomplished to master the skies. My career choice was set in stone after a factory tour of Lockheed Martin given by my brother (a Software Engineer), where I was able to marvel at the planes being built.
I received a B.S. in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan (UM). Fortunately, UM was very focused on hands-on experiences, so my courses featured design, build, and test processes on a blimp, a hovercraft and a ramjet engine. That work provided experience with real-world applications like computer-aided design (CAD), computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, software programming and more.
During my undergrad years, I had two internships. One was with a small company, Technetics, in Florida and another one with a large company, Boeing, in Washington.
Then, I wanted to pursue my passions academically further by going to Stanford University for a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. During that time, I had a third internship with a startup company, Hyperloop One, in California.
My education and internships helped me choose and prepare for my current job. I work for a start-up company called Aerion Supersonic as an Aerodynamics Engineer. Our company is developing a supersonic business jet with a target fly date of 2023. Everything I work on is focused on bringing this to reality. Working for a small start-up company brings a lot of meaning to my job; there are a lot of exciting challenges with real potential impact of what I do every day.
My advice to high school girls is that they should not be afraid by the statistics or stigma of being an engineer. If you are even slightly interested in engineering, you should attend a seminar or a class to see if engineering could be a fit. It is all about exposing yourself to new experiences. If you are interested in it, just go for it, because it is all about your passion, and that will take you far.
This article was written by Michelle Suen.