Page 9

Frontiers November 2013 Issue

Something in the air This wind-tunnel engineer has front-row seat to what comes next in aerospace By Kate Zaranek and photo by Fred Troilo Stephanie Lee is a data engineer at the Boeing vertical/short takeoff and landing wind tunnel at the company’s site in Ridley Township, Pa., near Philadelphia. In this Frontiers series that profiles employees talking about their jobs, Lee describes how she came to Boeing and why her role in Boeing Test & Evaluation is important to her—as well as the company. I work in one of the most interesting places you'll find at Boeing. It's the largest privately owned wind tunnel in the country, and it has a nine-blade fan that’s 39 feet (12 meters) in diameter that can generate up to 18,000 horsepower and speeds greater than 220 knots (250 mph, or 400 kilometers per hour). We test a variety of objects here, and I am responsible for writing custom software to collect data from the tests—aerodata such as pressure, force and moment, all of which determine how an aircraft will act in flight. The data I produce provide critical engineering information about these aircraft. Boeing programs use the data to improve a design or test a concept. Working with a wide range of products and people at the wind tunnel, I have a front-row look at different aerospace products and concepts and I learn from people with different perspectives. It's fascinating to get a sneak preview of the future of aerospace. Everyone on the team is cross-trained and willing to step in to assist others. I’ve had the opportunity to learn to operate the tunnel, support instrumentation setup and serve as a test engineer. I have traveled to different labs throughout our organization and seen how easily we all work together and collaborate. During an off-site wind-tunnel testing assignment, I got to experience the customer side of wind-tunnel testing and brought back valuable lessons learned from another facility. From all of these different experiences I’ve really developed technically as an engineer and I’ve seen our team come together more tightly. Indeed, my team has become like a second family. I became interested in aerospace back in high school. I was at a camp the summer after my junior year and I saw a demonstration from a senior researcher from NASA Ames Research Center in California. He brought in a miniature wind tunnel and showed how air flows over a surface to create lift. More important, he brought a team of interns with him who were about my age. I thought, I could be one of them. Right then and there, I knew I was hooked on wanting to work in aerospace. I was so excited after the session that I asked the researcher if I could help his team. Eventually, I got internships at Boeing as a college student and I joined the company full time in 2012. My goal is to be a test director. They have the “big picture” view of a test and are responsible for all operations, much like an orchestra conductor. They make sure everyone is working in sync. Meanwhile, I feel very lucky to be part of a really dynamic group with a great team atmosphere. The work is exciting and interesting. It is also meaningful because we contribute to something very important—the safety and performance of our products. I’m committed to ensuring the safety of our aircraft and especially of the people who fly on them. It’s a huge responsibility that I take very seriously because I know what I do helps unite families and bring people home. n katryzina.p.zaranek@boeing.com BOEING FRONTIERS / NOVEMBER 2013 9


Frontiers November 2013 Issue
To see the actual publication please follow the link above