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  • Hi Jesame, you brought me to tears after reading your questions and knowing your frustration.  I can so relate to the struggle of knowing that something is so close and yet feels like it is so far away.  As a kid, I fell in love with the F-16 fighter aircraft.  I would dream about flying escort missions and such, but as I started high school, I realized that I had many more dreams and goals that I wanted to accomplish.  As I worked my way through my last year of high school and very few scholarships came to my doorstep, I looked toward my dream of being a fighter pilot.  My heart was broken when I was told that that I didn’t meet the strict requirements that the military wanted at the time. Now, not only could I not pay for school, I didn’t have a plan in mind.  I had a mentor and someone interested in helping me find my next step.  I was invited on a weekend trip to Tuskegee University and that’s where I saw an F-4 Phantom on display for the first time in my life.  I said, to myself that “whatever is studied in this building is what I will do; this is my next step.”  As I begin to study Aerospace Science Engineering, I met a classmate that was interested in flying too.  He invited me on a trip with him to Birmingham, Alabama.  I flew as his unofficial co-pilot/navigator.  It was the coolest trip I had ever taken in a C172.  From there, I was on my way and it was all about me.  I was introduced to the FBO, Colonel RJ Lewis and he introduced me to the best Flight Instructor I’ve ever had, Antonio Smith.  I was given a scholarship by the FBO and the local Tuskegee Airmen chapter to complete my Private Pilot’s license.  I flew every weekend and during the week when I did not have class.  I was so proud of the mentors and network I had developed and even more proud of myself.  Then, it was time to get busy and graduate.  I had to get focused on getting a job and financing more flight training, but how could I do that?  I was in that familiar place of ‘find my next step’.  A couple of months from graduation, I contacted my friend and former classmate that took me on the exciting flight to Birmingham, Alabama and asked for advice.  He asked for my resume.  The week of my birthday, I had two interviews with Boeing to join the Flight Test team in Seattle.  Talk about exciting, I was thrilled.  Now that I was working as an Engineer and flying during my off time, I started looking for the next step.  How do I put both my dreams of being a Professional Pilot and my Engineering career together as one?  I started asking about Flight Test Pilots and how to get into that group of Pilots/Engineers.  More experience as a Pilot is what I needed, so in the mean time, I’m building time and flying with my next step in mind, Flight Test Pilot.

    That’s the short version of my long story, but I say all of that to show you that our passion will not allow us to rest until we do what we are supposed to do as Pilots and Engineers.  You will make it!  Yes, as you can see, I have certainly felt/feel the same way on my journey.  Keep in mind, it is just that a ‘journey’.  Your experiences/obstacles are to prepare you to ‘find the next step’.    Now, for a little more practical advice, the Women in Aviation chapters in Africa, I think are in Nigeria and Kenya.  I’m not sure of your resources of travel, but it is a great place to start looking for scholarships.  The 2015 scholarships are now available for applicants to apply.   They are competitive but are well worth the effort of at least applying.  There are also the other flight schools there, I’m sure you are familiar with SAFTA and Madiba Bay. I would recommend getting to know some local instructors looking for safety pilots or just building time. They usually enjoy the extra company in the cockpit.  Also, check out the Bessie Coleman Aerospace Legacy (formerly Bessie Coleman Foundation) may have scholarships available as well. 

    Don’t Give Up and know that you are Never Alone on this Journey.

    Keep’em Flying!

  • posted by Alexis from Missouri on September 4, 2013

    Great question. I thought about how to respond because I wanted to give you a sense of what it means to be an Engineer. Basically, engineering is the application of knowledge to create objects or scenarios. I use Engineering on a daily basis with almost everything from figuring out what size flat washers I need to retain my car's steering panel-that keeps falling because the screws have worn through; really irritating- to repairing a component or bracket on an aircraft wing. One could also find themselves engineering an explanation to get an extension on an assignment, or if you are like my niece, a way to get out of her punishment for inappropriate behavior. Engineering, in general, is versatile. Be careful of what you call yourself or the stereotype, you may find yourself engineering one day.

    I hope I was able to answer your question and please feel free to ask more.

  • Tuskegee University has an excellent graduate degree program in Electrical Engineering as well as Mechanical Engineering. Most impressive of them all is the Material Science Doctorate degree program. Because it’s a fairly new program, there are some pretty amazing research opportunities to pursue and outstanding staff and faculty to work with you. I would encourage you to pursue either of these programs and take full advantage of the summer opportunities offered. Here is a link to the graduate program site for Tuskegee University.

    Best Regards, Crystal.

  • What an awesome and eco-friendly idea. Recycling and limiting waste is a tremendous effort that requires everyone in this world to actively participate and be vigilant in making sure that others are mindful of your environment. I applaud you on a creative and inspiring effort. Well done! It is this same effort that keeps our world clean and ensures a healthy, beautiful and “stylish” long life for our future. It is also that creative thinking process that most effective leaders have in common with you all. The ability to think outside the “box” or “norm” is a huge asset and I encourage you to continue to develop those skills. Mrs. Pinn, I wonder if I could order some studs from these young innovators?

  • I am very happy to hear that you are good in math and science, the skills you develop in those subjects will be of great benefit in the Aerospace industry. A Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering is a great foundation to the world of Aviation. In this industry the basics for success start with a good foundation regarding aerospace, patience, skill, and determination. All of those qualities are usually embodied by women. This makes aviation a natural fit for any woman if she chooses to study the profession. The difficulty does not come so much as getting the job as it does to keep the job. All women face some challenges in any male dominating sector. The key is to have the mindset that you are qualified for the job and can perform any task as well or better than anyone else. If you find yourself not equipped for something, learn what you do not know, and try it again. Remember the only chance you will get, is the chance you make for yourself. Just for reference I also showed your question to some of the people I work with. (See below) - Crystal Responses from colleagues at Boeing: In the 14 years of being an engineer; I personally have never experienced difficulty being a woman in the aerospace engineering field. Once I witnessed a woman who wanted to get special treatment because she was female. (She didn't last long because she refused to go to the aircraft). I feel that if a woman doesn't see a difference between male/female in the way she should be treated, then she will do fine. If one does their job, they are fine. Thanks. - Francis Today doors for women are opening up in every field. Don't give up on your dreams because of another opinion. It may not come easy and you may have to work harder but go for it. When I started in this field I would be the only woman and minority for years but now there are many women of every nationality, follow your dreams. - Linda No, it's not hard for women to get in the field. Because it is so male dominated, a majority of companies are looking to diversify their pool of employees by looking for qualified women engineers and engineers from different cultures to fill open job postings. During a mentor session on site with UW, one of the female students asked this same question to one of the directors from the Everett site. He stated it had been difficult to hire more women because he hasn't had many applicants. That definitely needs to be changed so I encourage you to seek that AE degree and get involved with technical organizations like SWE, SAE and/or AIAA to seek out those companies that are looking to diversify their employee base. - Stephanie I can't speak for other companies, but it seems to me that women are doing quite well at Boeing. - Vern It doesnt matter to me if an engineer is a man or woman, what matters is that they know what they're doing. I admire anyone that can make it through all of the math and other courses to get that degree. - Shelby Is it difficult for women AE to get job in any airline company since it is a male dominating sector? It is not any more difficult for women to get a job than for a man. Some of our best engineers are female. Do women face difficulties in this sector? Everyone faces problems do not let roadblocks stop you from reaching your goals. If being an aircraft engineer is your dream then go for it. - Rodrick I think that there will be challenges in any male dominated field. However, getting hired into aerospace engineering is not one of them. The quantity of women who excel in math and science and go on to pursue related degrees is very small. The corporate world is ever-changing and the need for a diverse workforce has been realized. With that being the case, increasing all types of diversity including work history, background, sex, race, etc is a priority, especially in engineering. I work for Boeing, one of the largest Aerospace companies, and I would strongly recommend that you pursue a degree in aerospace from an ABET-accredited university. With the corporate culture changing, it is much easier for a woman to gain employment in engineering. I would recommend that you seek out internships and co-ops from engineering companies in your sophomore and junior years of college to significantly improve you hiring chances immediately after college. - Magnificent
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