Take Ian Reed; he's a 2013 mechanical engineering graduate who's current working at SpaceX, one of the world's most cutting-edge manufacturers and transporters of rockets and spacecraft. Find out, in his own words, what his life is like post-LETU.
What does an average day for you look like?
As Design for Manufacturability Engineer, my role is a link between the design and manufacturing worlds. My job is to address problems with new and existing products from a holistic perspective. Sometimes nonconformances require a process change and sometimes they require a design change. My job is to understand the problem and the product well enough to prove what the best solution is. I currently am responsible for this kind of problem solving on the first and second stage integrated assemblies, stage separation mechanisms, and grid-fin mechanisms.
What's a high point in your career since graduating from LETU?
I felt a sort of mini-euphoria the first time we launched a rocket that I had been inside and helped put together. It's amazing to know the work I had done in the previous months were pieces of the puzzle that ended up with a satellite high above the earth in the geosynchronous orbit.
|Ian Reed, on the job at SpaceX|
Why did you choose to study mechanical engineering?I have always been a builder and experimenter. Mechanical Engineering is the ultimate set of knowledge and skills that enable me to build and experiment with as much of the world as possible.
How has your education benefitted your current position at SpaceX?
LETU's focus on project management and fundamental engineering knowledge was the perfect foundation for working at SpaceX. Tech startup culture is completely project-based, so arriving with the ability to operate with minimal guidance was extremely valuable. I use my fundamental engineering knowledge every single day; all design or manufacturing can eventually be broken down to a statics, dynamics, fluids, vibes, or thermal problem. In fact, I have all my engineering textbooks at arm's length for easy reference!
Was there a particular person who was influential during your time at LETU?
Although I didn't fully appreciate him until after I graduated, Dr. Gary DeBoer showed me it's possible to be fully both a person of faith and science. If you're under the impression that your faith is in contradiction with science, it is your duty as a person of science to approach the contradiction analytically, and either uncover new scientific evidence to support your faith, or alter your faith to match reality. You must strive for truth in all things.
What advice do you have for a current LETU mechanical engineering student or someone considering mechanical engineering?
1. Communication skills count for more than 50% of your ability to be effective in the work force – oral, written, body language, presentations. Become a master now or suffer later when you don't get that interview or promotion.
2. Once you pass a 3.6 GPA, your holistic engineering experience becomes much more important for your candidacy at an engineering firm.
3. It isn't enough to be a part of a project, you have to own a piece of it and prove that your involvement was necessary for the project's success.
Well done, Ian! Your accomplishments are exemplary and LETU is grateful to call you an alumnus.