Young A&D Professional: Kayla Dunn

Systems Integration Project Engineer
UTC Aerospace Systems
B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering

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

Both of my parents are engineers so I was predisposed to a love of math from birth, but wasn’t entirely interested in the field until I got a new bookcase in middle school. We got the box to my house from the store and I immediately ripped it open and started to try and put the pieces together without giving a second thought to looking at any directions. My father told me that day that I was born to be an engineer as I tried to create something from nothing by my own trial and error.

Who was most influential in your decision making?

My AP Calculus teacher in high school helped reinforce my decision to go into engineering. We had a very small class (~5-7 students) for two years and he had the most objective and accurate view of our knowledge and likelihood of success in the field. He helped guide us through our first taste of mathematical critical thinking, and showed me that not only was I good at it, but I also liked it. I didn’t look back from there.

What do you do in your job?

I work on the Environmental Control Systems for the Boeing 787 aircraft that controls the cabin air temperature, high powered electronics cooling, food cooling, and cargo temperature (to name a few). Working on the System Integration team, I write/execute test procedures, plot/analyze lab data, and coordinate inter-disciplinary project management activities to support program milestones. Our team reaches across the thermodynamics, mechanical design, dynamics, controls, and program office groups to bridge the gap and ensure we operate as a cohesive team to deliver our best products to the customer.

Why do you like your job?

I get to see the 10,000-foot view of our products. While some groups may focus specifically on one system or one part of creating the system, I am able to see and contribute to all of it. Every system is different, and addressing any issue could involve a single group or every disciple. Working across so many disciplines and systems, I am never short of a learning opportunity which keeps every day interesting.

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

Look for learning opportunities anywhere you can and always be open to trying something new. You never know when or how you might find your passion. Go new places, meet new people, and explore the world. Engineering is a global field and aerospace can take you places you never dreamed of.