All Eyes On
Integrated Product Team Lead, The Boeing Company
St. Louis, Missouri
CPE and EE, May 2015
Tell us a little bit about yourself – hobbies, family life, interests, etc.
I currently live in St. Louis with my wife, Lauren (also part of the Pack! She majored in CHE and PSE). I love to play golf, play basketball, play softball -- really, anything that gets me active or outside. My wife and I enjoy exploring St. Louis and supporting our local sports teams (Let's Go Blues!).
Why did you choose NC State? Why did you choose Electrical and Computer Engineering? Where did your interest in the field come from?
High School Physics was my first taste of Electrical Engineering. After one of our first classes on electrical circuits, I started taking electronics apart in my room. I didn't know how anything really worked, but I wanted to learn it. ECE was the key to unlocking how these devices really work. When it came to choosing a school, I had a tough decision between NC State and Georgia Tech. After spending time visiting both schools, NC State was the clear winner. Now I grew up in Atlanta with Georgia Tech practically in my back yard, but I felt that NC State (especially the ECE department) had one of the most important factors for success: community. When I visited NC State, several professors went out of their way to talk to me about the cool things going on in the department. I wasn't special; I was just some Georgia boy that wanted to learn more about Electrical and Computer Engineering. But the professors (and students) were more than willing to talk to me about why NC State was the right choice.
Was there a professor that had an impact on your career or time here at ECE? If so, who and explain.
Two professors come to mind -- Prof. Jim Carlson and Dr. Greg Byrd.
Dr. Byrd taught me to appreciate and enjoy software design. ECE209 was my first real glimpse into software design and to thinking like a Computer Engineer. We had to care about what the hardware was doing, rather than just blind coding. At the end of the course, Dr. Byrd dropped a hint that I should take ECE306 with Prof. Carlson. The rest, as they say, is history!
Prof. Carlson taught me how to really work in an engineering lab. Today, I work with an outstanding team of engineers designing avionics equipment. Integration and troubleshooting are two of the most important parts of our work. Prof. Carlson's class (ECE306) provided one of the best opportunities I've come across to experience Hardware/Software integration AND troubleshooting equipment. A lot of my teammates are immensely jealous of the opportunity we have from ECE306!
In what ways has ECE prepared you for current or previous positions?
I feel that ECE has provided the most valuable problem-solving skill set I could ask for. NC State ECE teaches students to solve problems in a realistic, achievable way. I found that all the classes I took had real world challenges to discuss, rather than just theoretical physics/math problems. Most importantly, NC State emphasizes the importance of asking for help! Knowing when to ask for help is an extremely important part of working on any team. I was extremely lucky to have great friends in ECE that could explain the tougher concepts that I didn't quite understand. After all, the strength of the Pack is the Wolf; and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack!
What does having a degree from NC State and more specifically, the ECE department mean to you?
Having degrees from NC State ECE is an immense point of pride for me. The ECE department is extremely well-respected throughout industry. We are leading some of the most impactful research world-wide. Plus, we have professors that truly care about their students' careers!
My degrees are also a continuous challenge to live up to what it means to be part of the Pack. I don't ever want to let the Wolfpack name down, as it means so much to myself and all other NC State alums.
What has been your biggest success in life – personal or professional or both?
Personally, I am most proud of my wife. I married an incredibly smart, supportive woman who challenges me to be the best person I can. I think the success here is that I found someone to support all my goofiness! Jokes aside, I am so proud of my wife's success in her engineering career. Plus, an Electrical Engineer marrying a Chemical Engineer means there's a lot of chemistry AND electricity! (Sorry, I couldn't resist...)
Professionally, I am most proud of the work I have done to design and integrate electronics on a few different platforms. I've spent many a day crawling underneath, inside, and on top of different aircraft to integrate and troubleshoot avionics equipment. Seeing that aircraft take off, perform aileron rolls, etc. gives me goosebumps, especially knowing that I was part of the team that helped get it there!
What do you miss most about your experience at NC State?
I miss the people! I still keep up with a lot of my friends and classmates, but I miss the Wolfpack community. Plus, I haven't been to a game at Carter Finley or PNC Arena in a long time!
What is the best piece of advice you received?
Don't be afraid to ask questions! The worst questions are the ones that go unasked. Staying inquisitive and ensuring you have the right understanding is more than half the battle with any problem.
What inspires you?
I have no shortage of inspiration in my life! My wife inspires me -- both personally and professionally -- to continuously improve myself and to have fun. My coworkers inspire me to be the best teammate I can. Our customers at Boeing inspire me to design a safe product on which so many people rely, from national security to flying to visit family and friends.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Find your passion. Find the class that makes you spend hours on Wikipedia, learning new math symbols/operators that you didn't know existed. Take an internship to learn what you want to do (or in some cases, what you DON'T want to do, which is equally important). Following your passion will take you further in your career, as you'll find the motivation to progress when you need it most.