What It’s Like to Be an Entry-Level Aviation Engineer
As a new aviation engineer, I experience a good mix of both office and fieldwork. The beauty of the job is being heavily involved in the design process of a project and then seeing the project develop in real life.
I have the opportunity to travel to new places and go sightseeing. In the past six months, I visited 22 airports across New England. Out of all the states in New England, I’d say Massachusetts had the best airports to work on. I got the chance to work at Provincetown Municipal Airport at the tip of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard Airport. Working at the Nantucket Memorial Airport, I was able to see the beach from the runway.
Massachusetts’s airports varied a lot in size. Some airports were located in residential areas and only took light aircraft, whereas others were located in business districts and took commercial airlines. On these airports, I conducted PCI inspections alongside another engineer. We looked for pavement distresses such as fatigue cracking, weathering, and rutting on the runways, taxiways, and aprons. With this information, we developed a pavement maintenance plan to determine which pavement sections were a priority in fixing. Among the 22 airports, one of them was a joint civil-military airport. Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport, also known as Barnes Air National Guard Base, had F-15 aircrafts while I was there. Being so close to the runway, it was a very cool sight to see the F-15s taking off and landing.
As for entering the field during a pandemic, there was nothing different from pre-pandemic times other than wearing a mask. Each state varied with its regulations and protocols, but the mask mandate was common for all states.
My work experience across the New England airports has made me grow a lot as an engineer. I have dealt with various projects ranging from fence relocation projects to runway extension projects. It was a plus to work near tourist destinations such as the mountains in Maine or the beaches on Cape Cod.