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Day in the Life of an Aerospace Engineer: Jen Hart

Jen is a Deputy Quality Business Unit Manager at Pratt & Whitney. Learn more about a day in the life of an aerospace engineer and how you can #BeThatEngineer!
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Jen Hart describes a day in the life of an aerospace engineer
Jen Hart describes a day in the life of an aerospace engineer

I decided to pursue engineering my senior year of high school. I had always been a good math and science student and I loved problem solving and puzzles, but my senior year was the first time I realized I could make a career out of it.

My dad brought me to his office (he’s a manufacturing engineer) and he showed me all of the ways I could use an engineering degree. I was pretty hesitant, but once I started college, I found that I really liked the subject and work.

I went to the University of Rhode Island (URI) and graduated with a BS in Mechanical engineering in 2017. I joined the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) my freshmen year of college. SWE had a large impact on me during my time at URI. I love the sense of community that SWE has, it was a nice place to connect with other women studying engineering, since we are a minority.

I also appreciated all of the professional development and community outreach we were able to do. SWE is how I found my first job at Pratt and Whitney in the Quality Engineering Development Program (QED) I had my interview for the position while attending SWE Nationals in 2016. I have always loved to travel, and P&W gave me the opportunity to work on jet engines and be in a rotational program.

I was fortunate to have an internship between junior and senior year. It was at a startup where I helped design and prototype fixtures and test rigs for LED lights. This internship helped me realized I loved hands-on work and ultimately led me to pursuing quality and manufacturing. I wanted to be able to see products through from start to finish.

A Day in the Life of an Aerospace Engineer

In my current role I work as a quality manager for P&W, leading the inspection group for HSMC-North in East Hartford. Pratt & Whitney manufactures jet engines for both military and commercial aircraft. If you fly regularly, you have most likely been on a Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft. I have spent my whole career in factories and assembly floors where we make everything from individual parts to fully assembled jet engines. 

My group is responsible for making a variety of parts and assemblies for both military and commercial jet engines. My current role allows for me to use my technical background and my skills that I learned early on in my career. It also lets me practice my people management skills and foster and develop talent within my team.

Our team does visual and dimensional inspection as well as non-destructive testing on thousands of different parts. It’s a fast-paced environment with many moving pieces, I really enjoy what I do. In my typical workday, I interact with a ton of different people. I interact with inspectors and operators who make the parts. I interact with engineers who support the processes (both quality and manufacturing engineers). And I also interact with other people managers and people who manage materials and finance and EH&S. It takes all kinds to run a factory.

Throughout my six-year career at P&W, I have had a few roles and all of them helped shape my career. I started at P&W as a rotational engineer in the Quality Engineering Development Program where I was able to rotate through 3 roles in 2 years and learn the business from many different perspectives early on.

I then placed out into a role as a machine shop quality engineer where I worked on turbine airfoils. In late 2021, I decided I wanted to use my MBA and lead my own team, so at that point I signed up to be an inspection supervisor. All of these roles taught me a lot about our products and people, and I am grateful that I still get the chance to learn every day.

My favorite part of being an aerospace engineer is the product, I can’t imagine ever getting bored working on jet engines. We make incredibly complex parts and products that help our customers move people around the world and enable our military to continue to innovate.

For any high school student who loves math and science, and thinks they may like engineering, try it. It won’t be easy, you will have a ton of homework and will learn more than you ever thought possible. But you might love it.

I am so glad I listened to my dad’s advice and majored in engineering – it lets me work with cool products and great people every day. Engineering itself allows you to go in many different directions and can provide so many different opportunities so if you are thinking about it, I say try it!


  • Emily Tacopina

    Written by Emily Tacopina: Emily is a Consultant Engineer at FM Global. Emily graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering.