Jenn Dandrea

Jenn Dandrea

Engineering Manager
The Boeing Company
lynnwood, WA, United States
Jenn Dandrea
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I have a mechanical Engineering degree from Syracuse University, and a Masters in Engineering Manament from Washington State University. I work as a 747 Production Support Engineer for the Boeing Company. I support the build and manufacturing of the 747 airplane, and provide engineering fixes when things don't go as planned. Like, when you bake a cake and you accidentally add too many eggs. How do you fix that so that the cake is still good? I need to make sure that the airplane is still safe! Outside of work, I enjoy swimming, biking, and running, racing Triathlons, volunteering at the dog shelter, I love to cook and bake also. I volunteer for a girls running group. I spend time in local schools to teach engineering and science. I love what I do. I love the life my job has provided me and the great people I have met. I'm happy to share it with anyone :)
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Ms Jenn Dandrea

Hi Prajwal,
Stop worrying :) I am a mechanical Engineering by degree and I work in aerospace! And lots of my coworkers are not aerospace engineers. They are civil, electrical, and mechanical. At my company, we build commercial airplanes. So you need to have all types of engineers involved. Even if you were making spaceships, there are mechanical systems (heating, cooling, hydraulics, engines) and electrical systems (networks, lights), and structure (civil) that needs to be designed and built. If you specialize in aerospace you'll have more information on aerodynamics, but it is nothing you cannot get with your undergrad in mechanical. If you are interested in aerospace, within your mechanical studies, you can take vibrations, helicopters, composites, or any other aero-type of class. There's about 90% overlap from ME and AE. 

Hi Kristin!
I work for an aerospace company as an engineer. I get to deal with issues that happen daily during the manufacturing process while building an airplane. I get to be on the airplane (or it's parts) daily looking at what went wrong and determining how to fix it. I deal with shop mechanics, customers, other engineers, and managers. I've worked this job both in the factory and on the flightline, where the airplanes test fly and come back and need fixes. In other jobs, I've works as a design/commissioning engineer. And I got to work at construction sites verify that installation of mechanical systems were correct on new construction. That was a lot of fun also!

I have been in the professional field with my BSME for 9 years now. I don't even notice that I'm 10% of the workforce in engineering. On top of that, I work with mechanics, whom are like 95% male. Again, rarely even take note. 

There is nothing I've noticed in the 3 companies I've worked for, and the several jobs I've had in my current company that would deter me from my job. By 'stepping back' you would only give the next female in line the same excuse. But if you step forward and take the challenge and overcome it, we increase the % and then next girl in line wont feel this way.

A diverse work environment is critical. And I'm not just talking men/women. Also includes people of different backgrounds. With diverse people, you have diverse thought. And that's what you need to make a team successful.

You should go into a career because you have passion for it and you want to do it, not because there's 'people like you' in the field. I love being an engineer. There are so many different jobs I can do, because I have an Engineering Degree. It doesn't even matter the field! I've worked on building, heart implants, flight tested airplanes, designed airplanes, and now help fix airplanes with a mechanical engineering degree. 

With regards to me, as a female engineer you do fight a little hard to almost prove yourself, because there's that stereotype. You know what that means? It means you're a fighter. That you're not willing to give up and roll over. You have to team better with other to show that you're capable. As a girl, the chances are your more social than your male engineer counterpart. How's that affect my job? I work well with others. I am driven to success and get the job done. I got harassed more for being 'young' when I started than for being a girl. In this field, it's experience that trumps everything else. And sometimes... being the girl works in your benefit around a bunch of guys. It must have something to do with chivalry :) Go read 'Lean In' or 'Nice girls don't get the corner office' and pave a path to be a positive role model for future engineering female. It's not a bad profession, Don't Quit!

I have to say, I'm not sure what an aircraft engineer is either. I am a mechanical engineer (by degree) but I work for an aerospace company. I've worked in many jobs at my company. I've been in airplane design that focused on the interiors (sidewalls, stowbins, seats), flight testing where i got to fly on the airplane and test it, and then production support. In Production support, I worked with the aircraft mechanics (the people who actually turn the wrench and build the airplane) to help them fix mistakes and improve design. As the engineer, you dont physically build the airplane, but create the design. We have aircraft mechanics and those are the guys that have their hands on the airplane building. Some of them have A&P (airframe and powerplant) certification, but none of them are engineers. There are smaller company's where you might design and help build the product. A degree in electrical, mechanical, or aerospace would allow you to design airplanes. 

Hi! First, it's wonderful that you enjoy mechanical/arch classes! I didn't get the pleasure of that type of exposure when I was in high school. Just jumped right into the engineering when I got to college. So, you're already making the right steps. Congrats! As for reading drawing... that takes time! It's a comes with practice type of thing. I still have to read hand drawing at work. I help design/build the Boeing 747-8 right now. The orginal 747 was designed in 1969... and that was way before computers. The sections of the airplane i support are still old school hand drawings. And even i have problems turning parts in my head, trying to figure out what direction I'm looking. A lot of times, I have to turn the paper around. Just pick it up, and rotate it until it fits. For instance, I might have a drawing of an assembly looking down at it.. and I get to the airplane, and I'm looking forward (to the cockpit)... I just take my drawing and move it around so it's in the same view I'm looking. I personally, was really bad at hand sketches in college. I had to take only 1 semester of it!! And it was partnered with a CAD class. With the exception of the airplane I work on, the 747... pretty much all other airplanes in Boeing Commerical are designed in CAD. So I can pull up an assembly, or part, and rotate it in 3D space. Old school hand drawings are not very common in current Engineering. You might have to read blueprints here and there, but overall, especially by the time you enter the field... it will be a lot art!! Unfortunately, all you can do is practice. I'm sure you can find on the web isometric drawing, just stare at some of them, see how the parts are rotated, and drawn. In the real world, you'll have all the time you need, not 4.5hours, to read a drawing. You also have mentors, and people to help. Life is not a school test. I'm still new in my current job, and asking questions is how you learn. Do not get discouraged by struggling! If it was easy, everyone would do it! The stuff I have learned in my career is amazing. And every time I change jobs (I'm on the 5'th since graduating college... I just keep finding more interesting things to do!), it's a new learning process. In this new job, I had to learn sooo much! it's more designed based than I have ever done. And it's old drawings I'm using. And i have to understand materials, build process, manufacturing... I would come home SO FRUSTRATED! My mentor in my job would say 'you'll hear 10000 new things a day. Just remember 5 of them... 5 new things a day. I'm 6 months into this job, and I love it. Engineering is a wonderful field! It's not all reading drawings. You can make CAD design, you can create manufacturing processes, I used to flight on test airplanes, oversee manufacturing lines... drawings and prints is just something you have to get through. Enjoy the challenge. It's what develops you and makes you smarter :)

Hi Kaitlyn, I'm glad to hear youre interested in Engineering! Its a great field and you really can do whatever you want with an engineering background. I don't know specifically if whatever school youre looking at has an engineering survey course, but almost all engineering schools do. Usually it would be Eng101. The best thing to do is look at the course catalog for whichever school youre interested in (usually online if you dig) or call their engineering department. My freshman year I started as an undecided in engineering, which put me into the engineering 101 class. 101 was a survey style course where each of the department heads from each engineering discipline came in and spoke to us about their program, what you can do with it, what to expect. We also took tours of the labs and did a few basic engineering projects which incorporated a variety of disciplines. Your best bet would be to check with the school. But Im 90% sure they will have an intro to engineering course for you to take! Another idea would be to look at the websites for: ASME (mechanical engineering), AIAA (Aero Engineering), ASCE (Civil), IEEE (Electrical), AIChe (Chemical), BMES (Biomedical) and whatever else you can find to get a better feel for what each discipline does. And also remember some are cross-functional. I'm a mechanical engineer by degree working on airplanes, which is more Aerospace, but they have mechanical systems. Good Luck! Jenn T Dandrea