Why did you choose Aeronautics and Astronautics? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
When I was 5 years old, I was on a late night stroll with my dad. I looked up at the night sky and naively asked him how I could get up to the stars. He said that I had to become an astronaut to do that. I grew up wanting to become an astronaut ever since and what better way to do that than by getting a degree in AAE at the Cradle of Astronauts?
Favorite Purdue AAE class or experience?
The coolest thing about Purdue is that we have astronauts and pilots visiting us often. I have been fortunate enough to meet two men who walked on the moon (Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan), several shuttle astronauts (Andrew Feustel, David Wolf, and Scott Tingle), and a former SR-71 and U-2 pilot Stormy Boudreaux. These incredible humans are my heroes and it was a privilege to meet them.
What organizations or activities were involved in at Purdue? What did you gain from that involvement?
I was very active in AAESAC (AAE Student Advisory Council). Our goal was to hold events that allowed students and professors to interact outside the classroom. We also organized AAE exclusive career fairs that hosted top Aerospace companies in the industry. By being part of the council I was able to form connections with professors, staff, and students that would’ve been difficult otherwise. It was an excellent platform to develop my leadership and communication skills that I still use everyday.
What are you doing currently?
I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. I switched fields because I want a more in depth background of metallurgy and manufacturing. My research focuses on implementing and analyzing impact welding techniques to join aerospace grade Titanium and Nickel alloys. It’s a fairly new technology that allows dissimilar metals to be joined through a cheap and repeatable solid state process.
What are your ultimate career goals?
I want to be a metallurgical engineer at a company that manufactures and designs rocket engines. And when space tourism becomes a norm, I am going to buy a ticket to Mars and become an astronaut tourist.
How is your Purdue AAE degree helping you achieve your goals?
I always tell people that getting into the AAE program is the easy part, it’s getting out in one piece that’s difficult. There’s a reason why everything is compared to rocket science. All the sweat, blood and tears that went into getting my degree have equipped me with strong critical thinking, design and leadership skills that have been important for my growth as an engineer. They served me well during my first job out of college and still continue to help me as I pursue higher education in a very different field.
What advice do you have for current AAE students?
There’s a CNC shop in the Armstrong basement. Talk to the person in charge about getting experience with using their equipment. Enroll in project based classes, if you can’t get in work on projects of your own. You can buy a cheap 3D printer and the possibilities are endless. Develop relationships with the AAE staff and with your professors outside of class. They might seem intimidating but they are incredibly helpful.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Right now I have been spending most of my free time building a robotic blacksmith (http://roboticblacksmithing.com/) for an upcoming competition.
When I am not busy with competitions, I usually attend zumba classes, paint, cook, or binge watch a show on Netflix.