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Tips for Students: Working in the Commercial Aerospace Industry

Highlights from Expert Series

The following article shares highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and their parents.

The Next Big Thing: An Overview of Working in the Commercial Aerospace Industry

The Boeing 787 is over 220 feet long, 195 feet wide, 56 feet in height, has nearly 60 miles of wiring inside of it and over 2.3 million parts, per airplane. Boeing Commercial Airplanes also employs about 142,000 people. So, when you work in commercial aerospace, your next project is always going to be the next big thing.

During this presentation you will be provided with an overview of how all those parts work together to get you safely to your destination, how to work with a team to complete goals that at first may seem larger than life, and the skills needed to pursue a career in the commercial aerospace field.

Technical overview:

Main Airplane Components:

  • Fuselage – Main Structure of the Airplane
  • Wing– Makes Lift
  • Stabilizers – Stabilizes the airplane and keeps it flyable
  • Propeller – Makes Thrust

 

Flight Control Surfaces:

  • Rudder – Yaw Force (Clockwise/Counter-Clockwise motion)
  • Ailerons – Roll Force (Side to side motion)
  • Elevators – Pitch force (Up/Down motion)

 

The Four Forces – The forces acting upon the airplane while in flight

  • The Four Forces of an airplane are lift, weight, thrust and drag.
    • Lift – This is the force generated by air flowing over the wing of the airplane. The airplane moving through the air causes more pressure on the underside of the wing resulting in a force that points up. Lift works in the opposite direction of Weight.
    • Weight – This is the force generated by the gravitational attraction of the earth on the airplane. This is the force most familiar to us because we feel it every day. Weight works in the opposite direction of Lift.
    • Thrust – This is the force that propels the airplane through the air. Thrust works in the opposite direction of Drag.

Turbo fan engines are a common type of propulsion and operate by the following mnemonic, “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow”. Air is Sucked into the intake by a large fan, it is then Squeezed by the compressor. Fuel is then added to the air and lit on fire (Bang) in the combustion chamber. This hot air then passes through a turbine which in turn keeps the fan and compressor working and it is finally the air is Blown out of the nozzle resulting in thrust that propels the airplane.

  • Drag – This is the force that resists the airplane as it moves through the air. Drag works in the opposite direction of Thrust.

Personal Overview:

Communication – Communication is the bedrock of a functional team, and simply goes beyond just writing something down, or speaking to someone. The keys to effectively communicate include:

  • Listening – This goes beyond just hearing the words being said and includes digesting and understanding them.
  • Empathy – Setting aside your perspective and seeing things from another’s perspective

 

Emotional Intelligence – Emotional Intelligence is your ability to be smart about your emotions. Your emotions play a critical role in your day-to-day life. Elements of emotional intelligence include:

  • Self-Awareness – Knowing how you are feeling at a particular time and understanding how your mood affects others
  • Self-Regulation/Self-Management – Controlling how you respond when you experience a specific emotion

 

Teamwork – Teamwork is the collaborative effort of a group of people to achieve a common goal. Given the complexities of modern engineering problems, it is impossible to solve them without working on a team. Some tips to effectively work on a team include:

  • Goal Definition – Ensure that everyone on your team has a clear definition of the goal that you are all looking to achieve. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely)

Additional Resources for Students Who Want to Study the Aerospace Industry

A great way to explore aerospace further is through any of the following activities:

  • Books on Aerospace
    • Flight: The Complete History of Aviation by R.G. Grant
    • 747: creating the World’s First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation by Joe Sutter
    • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Graves
    • The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John C Maxwell

 

Authored by: Chris Bujnowski
Bio: I am the 777X Folding Wingtip System Lead Engineer with responsibilities for the team performing system requirement development, validation and verification and defining software implementation requirements. I’ve been working at The Boeing Company since 2015 where I’ve held previously roles as a 777X Folding Wingtip System Test Lead, and as a 777X Folding Wingtip System Equipment Manager. I have a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California – Los Angeles, an MBA from the University of Washington-Bothell, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott. Outside of work I volunteer with the Davidson Institute for Talent Development as an alumni mentor with the Young Scholars program. In my free time I enjoy hiking in the Pacific Northwest in addition to cheering on the Seattle Kraken hockey team and the Seattle Sounders soccer team

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