Boom engineers share what inspired them to pursue careers in aerospace.
Few professions inspire people to literally reach for the stars. Aerospace is one of them.
The choice of a career path is a life-altering decision. Many people are inspired by parents and teachers, while others find their passion through what’s happening in the world around them. For Boom’s engineering team, that inspiration came in varying ways, from a parent’s job to following the space program. Read on — and perhaps be inspired by — these stories from our team about what influenced them to pursue careers in aerospace.
Computational Design Engineer Michael McLellan is a member of the Overture aerodynamics team. His focus is configuration trades, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) wing optimization, and planning the team’s next steps as they continuously mature aircraft design.
“My goal of working in aerospace started at around the age of 10. I began constantly making paper airplanes whenever I was bored because I was fascinated by these things flying high above. When I learned in school that people had jobs to create those things flying above and you got to use math to do it, I was hooked.”
Senior Structural Engineer Gustavo Silva is a mechanical and aerospace engineer by training, but works as a software engineer and numerical methods expert. He supports multiple engineering teams in determining how to best solve problems mathematically. Then, he helps implement the software that makes the math a reality. He bridges the communication gap between multiple-discipline experts.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I grew up a nerd before being one was socially acceptable. As a true nerd, I watched tons of science fiction, especially Star Trek the Next Generation. I was such a nerd that I never wanted to be Captain Picard, or any of the ‘cool kids’ who got to join the boarding party in the Borg starship. Nope. I wanted to be an eccentric scientist in the nameless space station working to make deflector shields a full 3% more efficient. I never stopped watching these shows, and never stopped pretending they were true. And, here I am, helping us take that very important baby step toward warp speed.”
Aero/Performance Engineer Tom Porter has been in the airplane business for more than 40 years. As an aircraft performance and FAA/EASA airworthiness certification engineer, he calculates and estimates aircraft performance impacts for each design iteration of Overture. That design process feedback requires explicit, bottom-line data, and that’s where Tom and his team come in for final technical evaluation.
“I became inspired to work in aerospace as a kid, literally on the farm. I’d look up high overhead to watch commercial traffic, up there at 7 to 8 miles high, zipping across the skies with their transcontinental and international payloads of people and high priority cargo. This was the age of 707s, 727s, DC-9s, and 747s. It was fascinating to me that people could cross the continent in about 6 hours or even be on their way via near-Great Circle routing to eastern Asia – nonstop. At around age 10, my parents took our family to a fundraiser for Flying Farmers of America. They paid ‘a penny a pound’ and I got a 20-minute ride. I was hooked. I knew that I belonged in that industry.”
Flight Control Systems Mechanical Engineer Madison Gilfert is focused on coordinating and executing XB-1’s flight controls ground testing prior to flight test. She works closely with avionics and aerodynamics throughout the design and test cycle.
“I grew up in an aviation family. My first flight was when I was three months old, and my dad was the pilot. We have a couple of small airports in the family, including one that was part of the original transcontinental airmail route. Flying our own single engine propeller planes is how my family stays connected.”
John Kelly leads the development of Overture’s propulsion and powerplant systems architecture. As engineering director, he’s managing the team that’s responsible for system designs and trade studies, integration of identified solutions, and test and certification.
“I grew up in an airline family. I was always intrigued with airplanes. Being a hands-on type of person, I went to school to become an aircraft technician. After graduating, the job market was very slow. So, I went into mechanical engineering and had internships at aerospace companies. I fell in love with the work and sense of accomplishment when you see your efforts in the form of a product flying. That feeling has fueled me in my aerospace career for the last 30 years.”
As Director of Certification, Tom Peters’ role at Boom is two-pronged. First, he serves as technical expert for Overture’s certification. He’s identifying where Overture’s design presents challenges and opportunities in airworthiness certification. Second, he’s planning Overture’s certification program, where we will demonstrate that Overture complies with all applicable airworthiness and environmental standards.
“The space program was partly what drew me to work in aerospace. It was an incredible thing to witness at the time, and since then it has been impossible for me to imagine working in any other industry. The other inspiration source is probably a little different from others my age. Like many, I had a parent who was a pilot and who exposed me to the world of airplanes from the time I was born. What was different in my case was that the parent was my mother, who flew professionally (instructor, aerial photography, etc.) since the 1960s. That made her a bit unique for the time.”
Flight Controls Systems Mechanical Engineer Grace Lynch joined Boom right out of college. In three fast-paced years, she has designed components for XB-1’s drag chute system and is now preparing for functional tests of the flight control system.
“My grandfather was an aerospace engineer in the 1960s, when commercial air travel was really starting to take off. I was inspired by his stories about the ways his work made the world a smaller place. It’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to do the same here at Boom.”
Inspired to take your career supersonic? Come work with us at Boom. Click here to explore career opportunities building the supersonic future.