There’s no Shortage of Love for Aviation at Boom

This month, love is in the air. For Boom avgeeks, it always is.

Valentine’s Day might be a holiday associated with romance, but we’re celebrating this year by sharing Boom employees’ passion for aviation and what drew them into the field. From touring the cockpit of an airplane as a child to joining the Marine Corps, there are many reasons Boom employees were drawn to aviation and now inspired to build a new era of sustainable supersonic flight.

Vikram Kumar, Powerplant and Propulsion Aero Integrator

What inspired you to work in this space and how did you get involved in the aviation industry?

“I have loved airplanes since before I can remember – even as a little kid I was more excited to learn about supersonic planes than to read comics or novels, and I was always the kid who would run to the window any time he heard the sound of a plane flying overhead. Suffice it to say I found myself among like-minded people at Boom! I’m also generally fascinated by all things mechanical, and I was mentored from the very start by my father who is an accomplished engineer and gas turbine expert. So when the time came for me to decide on a career path, the choice was obvious to me.”

What inspires you about supersonic travel/flight?

“I’m thrilled to be able to leverage my engineering background and my love of fast planes to help make the world a smaller place in the best way possible – to help connect people that live far apart. Whether it is to grow international business, enable people to more easily discover different cultures and to have enriching experiences, or to help families and friends reconnect during the limited time they have in their busy lives, being able to solve hard engineering problems and design a really a cool plane that truly benefits us all is what excites me!”

Vikram Kumar is an aerodynamics engineer working on the design of the Overture/Symphony supersonic inlet system.

Nancy Barber-Chase, Data Management & Process Lead

How did you get started in the aviation industry? 

“My involvement in aviation happened atypically. For 10 years, I taught professional and technical writing to undergraduate engineering students as well as Public Speaking in the STEM careers. These credentials afforded me the opportunity to work as a consultant for the Department of Defense. In this role, my writing and speaking responsibilities included making engineering work accessible to non-engineering military personnel who used the technologies on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. These experiences combined to qualify me for my eventual shift from academia to aviation when I went to work for Gulfstream. Again embedded in Engineering, I started off as a writer and process analyst who led efforts to establish a knowledge management infrastructure. After finishing my Phd. in Technical Communication, I shifted to people leadership in Compliance Assurance. In this role, I was able to lead teams in certification engineering and data management of the artifacts needed to show compliance when ready to certify an aircraft. 

In other words, my work has never been grounded in the love of airplanes, like so many others. Rather, my work has always been about my passion for the people and processes responsible for making, testing, and certifying airplanes. My greatest reward is helping engineers do their aviation work more efficiently and effectively.” 

Any advice for someone getting into this industry?

“I love this question, as I am often asked how I came to do what I do. My advice for anyone who is interested in STEM disciplines is to look into the intersection of STEM communication and the technical disciplines, especially for those who don’t see science, technology, engineering, and math as binary to communication and literacy. For those who do, my advice is to rethink this! STEM as a collective field often overlooks the role communication and technical literacy play in professional success and career advancement.”

Nancy’s role includes defining, standardizing, and building the information infrastructure for Engineering data and documentation. This effort balances current needs with long-term requirements for certification data management as Overture matures from concept to entry-into-service. This role works cross functionally with IT, Legal, Business Operations, and Applications & Information Architecture to establish Boom policies, processes, and procedures necessary to meet certification objectives while ensuring Engineering deliverables are standardized, professional, controlled, and trusted sources of information for those who must consume them.

Douglas Klutzke, Principal Engineer of Aircraft Configurations

What do you love about aviation and working in this industry? 

“I’ve always had an interest in aircraft but what cemented it was waiting at the airport for a family member to return, back when we could go to the gate. There was a pilot closing up a plane for the evening at the gate next to us and he invited me to tour the cockpit. I still feel this excitement when I get the chance to watch air shows and tour aviation museums. When on a business trip, it’s magic when you find your way over to the local museum to walk through a Concorde or see a Guppy close up before catching your return flight.”

Douglas Klutzke is a Principal Engineer of Aircraft Configurations at Boom, where he creates, coordinates, and manages the Overture aircraft physical definition. This starts from conception, to creation and certification, and even beyond that to the retirement of the aircraft. 

Eli Oleksiak, Sr. Director, Avionics & Electrical Systems

What inspired you to work in aviation?

“Since a young age, I’ve had a fascination with aircraft. That interest grew when I served in the Marine Corps which allowed me the opportunity to fly as a passenger on a variety of aircraft and I knew that there was a well-trained pilot with a very capable aircraft close by when you needed them. My interest peaked when I became an engineer. I wanted to work in the most challenging industry out there, an industry that takes people above buildings and beyond.” 

Eli Oleksiak leads Boom’s Avionics & Electrical Systems Engineering and Iron Bird teams, which is responsible for the the development, design, implementation, integration, testing, and certification of the Avionics, Electrical, and Electrical Wiring Interconnect Systems (EWIS) for Overture.

Chris Taylor, VP of Manufacturing

How did you get your start in this industry?

“I was a co-op student at Georgia Tech and Gulfstream American was cranking up its co-op program. Gulfstream happened to be in my hometown and I had lots of neighbors who worked there and had toured the facility many times when I was in grade school and high school. It was a perfect opportunity to work in a cool place where I already knew people and, as a bonus, I could live at home! I worked 7 rotations there (we were on the quarter system back then) everywhere from the Industrial Engineering group to the Manufacturing Engineering group. But the most fun area (and where I spent most of my co-op time) was in the Tool Shop. I learned so many different facets of manufacturing in that environment – from sheet metal fabrication to machining to assembly. I also learned a great deal about the value of the people on the shop floor. I was lucky enough to be offered a full time job in Manufacturing Engineering when I graduated. Ended up staying at Gulfstream for 39 years.”

What inspires you about working at Boom?

“The most exciting thing for me is the opportunity to build a Manufacturing line from the ground up and to implement ideas from a whole new community of aerospace professionals. The supersonic aspect of the mission is icing on the cake, but the real excitement lies in bringing it all to life. And not just building a new aircraft – but assembling a brand new team of technicians and professionals and creating an entirely new creative environment.”

Chris Taylor is Boom’s vice president of manufacturing, based at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina: the site of the Overture Superfactory. As Boom’s first Greensboro hire, he’s responsible for developing the manufacturing facility and processes. See construction progress on the Superfactory here. 


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