When I was 12, I looked through a telescope for the first time. I have never been the same since. Standing there, looking at the moon in such detail stirred something inside me; it sparked a deep desire to learn as much as I could about the world around me.
I am 25 years old now and I am an aerospace design engineer, or as some may amusingly call me, a "Rocket Scientist." I can't imagine anything else I would rather be doing. All those years of math equations, science experiments, seemingly impossible physics homework and lab reports really paid off. Every day I wake up, just like everyone else does, and I go to work. However, work is not just "work," at least it doesn't seem that way to me. Running trade studies and developing test programs to help aircraft designers choose the best new aluminum alloy for their new aircraft, helping an aircraft manufacturer devise a solution to a constant cracking problem on one of their older aircraft, and flying to various parts of the world to participate in discussions about the next best aircraft designs and ideas, is hardly simple "work."
I get to work on ideas that have never been worked on before and I learn something new every day, kind of like I did in school! For example, did you know that the outer aluminum skin of an airplane is only 0.2 inches thick? Or that a Boeing 747-400 has six million parts made in 33 different countries? In the past few years I have worked on a variety of projects. My first project involved structural health monitoring technology, which would allow us to know when a crack forms in an aircraft structure even before we can see it. Many of my other projects have dealt with the development of a new aircraft material technology known as fiber metal laminates which allows for longer aircraft life and safer aircraft structures.
Now, every time I fly on an airplane, I find myself staring in wonder; I think to myself how thousands of engineers and scientists, like myself, have spent years of their life designing this structure and making it as safe, as efficient and as well made as possible to get every passenger on board safely from point A to point B. Knowing that I am a small, but important, part of this, is truly unbelievable!
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