Young A&D Professional: Ann Khidekel

Aerodynamics Engineer
UTC Aerospace Systems, 6.5 Years
B.S. Ohio State University, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering

1. When did you first decide to take STEM courses and/or pursue a career in engineering?

I was always interested in math and science from an early age. After visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when I was in middle school, my interest in aerospace engineering began in earnest. It was solidified by reading and watching inspirational books and movies such as “Rocket Boys,” “Apollo 13” and “The Right Stuff.”

2. Who was most influential in your decision making?

The person who influenced my decision to become an engineer was a professor in college. My freshman year, I started with an undecided major. I had to attend lectures from all the different colleges at Ohio State to help me pick my major. A professor from the Engineering school made an outstanding speech that solidified my desire to go into engineering. She said engineers make everything possible, from the knife and fork you use to eat, to the x-ray machine that can find a bone fracture, to the rockets that go into space. Almost everything we use is engineered and it makes our civilization possible. That really resonated with me and my desire to have a positive influence in the world I live in.

3. What do you do in your job?

I work as an aerodynamics engineer, meaning I have fun modeling, running and testing designs. I do modelling using computer aided design (CAD) tools and I use commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools, as well as use and develop internal aerodynamics models and codes to assess the efficiency of an aircraft’s nacelle and thrust reverser. I then work with test labs to complete flow model and wind tunnel testing to validate the requirements for efficiency and my CFD analysis.

4. Why do you like your job?

I love what I do. I am able to complete a variety of tasks and be engaged at every portion of the life cycle of the product. My favorite part of my job is seeing the parts I analyze made and tested.

5. Any advice to young students wanting to pursue a career in engineering and enter the aerospace industry?

The aerospace industry is at an exciting turning point. A lot of the current aircraft that are flying around have been designed to nearly max capability, which means a step change is in the near future. Young engineers will have a lot of influence on the future and in creating innovative, exciting and new products.