A master in the art of living draws no sharp comparison between his work and his play;
his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing,
and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing.
To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
- Professor L.P. Jacks
I've wanted to be an engineer of some sort for as long as I can remember. I vividly recall my parents' horror when they came home from work to find I had taken apart all the patio furniture because I was fascinated by how it was put together (but could not, as it turns out, put it back together). I was nine.
After high school I pursued a business degree - because it was safe and predictable. It gave me opportunities I would not otherwise have had, and taught me the value of discipline and attention to detail.
For almost 15 years I put that business degree to work, but still dreamt of being an engineer. I found a way to blend my degree and my passion by working in industrial sales where I spent as much time in the shop as I could - building things and creating custom products for our clients. In my free time I helped build race cars, drag bikes, aircraft modifications, rockets, and anything else that I could convince someone else to let me help them with. I'm particularly proud of a turbo modification that I helped install in a Cessna 182, and a liquid-fuel rocket that was literally taken from a barn and resurrected into a fully-functional method for turning hydrocarbons into noise and thrust. Some bumps and scrapes were had, but I still have all ten fingers, so I suppose it's safe to say that I learnt a few things along the way.
My drive to be an engineer led me to a NASA design competition advertised for undergraduate students, with the top 5 finishers earning a NASA internship. I was determined to not only enter, but win - even though I had no formal aerospace engineering experience (just a pilot's license and the force of will to guide me). So to meet the student eligibility requirement, I enrolled in an accounting class at the local community college and started designing.
I finished fourth out of approximately 50 entries.
One NASA internship led to several more - and my enrollment in Cal Poly Pomona's aerospace engineering program. I spent every summer at NASA while pursing my degree full time and still working full time.
After graduating, I continued my education at Penn State's Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence, earning my Master's in aerospace engineering and starting my engineering career at NAVAIR. I continue to seek opportunities wherever they may be found, and have worked with startups and small companies on a variety of projects, including configuration design, composite structures, vibration testing, wind tunnel testing, and flight testing.
I began my MBA at Penn State in Fall of 2017, with concentrations in finance and supply chain management. The number of engineers I've met with both an M.S. and an MBA could likely be counted on one hand (with fingers to spare), so I figure this combination can only help.
All the while, I stay connected to others who share my passion and provide engineering support to entrepreneurs, student groups, friends, and other bold souls looking to change the world - aude aliquid dignum, and all that jazz.
For more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.