After six months in a non-engineering role with Boeing, and thanks to an engineering degree from Washington State University, Jaimie Nguyen landed the engineering job at Boeing that she really wanted.
She chose to work toward a career in engineering just a few years after her family moved to the United States from Nha Trang, Vietnam in 2009. For her, the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s program at WSU Everett was a perfect fit. “I chose mechanical engineering because it is such a broad degree, and I enjoyed working on robotics,” she said.
Today, her career has taken flight at Boeing, where she converts 777X models as a process engineering/web developer. “My group manages a system that takes models drawn using CATIA software and converts them into a three-dimensional PDF file so our clients can view them,” she said.
An internship that changed lives
Nguyen graduated from Edmonds Community College in 2014. She then started an internship at Keltia Design Inc. in Everett where she taught SolidWorks and CATIA training courses to people seeking employment or retraining.
“My internship at Keltia Design was really important to me,” she said. “If I didn’t have the Keltia internship, I don’t think Boeing would have offered me my job.”
For two years, Nguyen taught individuals with experience in two-dimensional modeling how to work with modern, three-dimensional modeling software.
Before the adoption of three-dimensional modeling, aerospace companies like Boeing used two-dimensional representations, and drawings, to communicate design plans. As technology has advanced, these individuals have had to seek retraining to learn new skills to work with new software.
“I was happy when I found out Boeing wanted to hire me, and I really think that my internship is what made me stand out,” she said. Nguyen was hired by Boeing in January 2016 as a product data management specialist while she finished her degree at WSU Everett. In that role, she built three-dimensional annotation airplane grid zones and CATIA models for visualization testing.
She said, “As a new employee – and not necessarily and engineer – in a big corporation, I have gained valuable skills on how to work through stressful situations, and how to seek new opportunities to go above a beyond.”
After graduating from WSU in spring 2016, Nguyen applied to a new position at Boeing that required a four-year degree, and she was hired.
The WSU Everett advantage
Like many students at WSU Everett, Nguyen had to balance family, work and her studies. But, since she had already started at Boeing, the challenge was even greater.
“Working full time and taking five classes at WSU, the professors were really flexible,” she said. “I felt like the professors at WSU, especially Andy Shu and Xiaopeng Bi, really care about the success of their students in and outside of the classroom. They were really helpful with the challenges students were facing in everyday situations.”
With the ability to stay close to her family, she also appreciated the more intimate classroom environments found in programs at Everett. “My family is here and I need to support my parents. Working and studying here in Everett was easier than it would have been in Pullman or Seattle,” Nguyen said.
Soaring to new heights
Now Nguyen is ready for more career opportunities within the region’s global aerospace giant and looks forward to soaring to greater heights with her employer. She said, “Boeing has many opportunities to grow. In the future, I would like to be a customer engineer for Boeing where I can travel to countries overseas to help clients with technical, operational and quality issues.”
Equipped with incredible local experience and a Washington State University mechanical engineering degree, the sky is the limit.