WSU Cougar Head Logo Washington State University
The complete Coug experience—closer to home.

Claire Jackson: Taking flight at WSU Everett

Claire Jackson

Hometown: Bellingham, WA
College: Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Electrical Engineering

“In engineering, coursework is frequently heavily focused on technical aspects of how things function. At WSU Everett, there is also an emphasis on soft skills like communications, writing, leadership, and problem solving within a group dynamic.”

Claire Jackson, Class of 2021 Mechanical Engineering, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

What sparked your passion for engineering?

Chancellor Pitre and Claire Jackson at the Drive Thru Spring 2021 Commencement Celebration.

In high school, I was fascinated by the laws and equations developed to govern nature and mathematics. I felt so happy after putting all the pieces together to complete a multi-page problem, or when I connected a concept I was taught in class to explain something I had experienced personally.

The last six weeks of high school I led a class project investigating the top ten innovations of prosthetics. It sparked my interest in robotics, the complex motions these prosthetics were able to achieve with electrical signals stimulated by nerves. Specific signals corresponding to mechanical movements allowing for the function of the prosthetic.

I was drawn specifically to mechanical engineering because of the diverse areas I could pursue after completing my degree. With a degree in mechanical engineering, I can work in medical applications, aerospace, manufacturing, construction, and so much more. 

At WSU Everett, there is an exciting integration of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering, which is what lead me to major in mechanical engineering and minor in electrical engineering. When working with robotics mechanical, electrical, and software applications tie so closely together to execute an objective.

Describe your new job at L3Harris Technologies?

The summer before my senior year at WSU Everett I had the opportunity to tour NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Network where I learned about the significance of the Deep Space Network and significant milestones of NASA. Exploring the compound in person and interacting with engineers on site was an experience that accelerated my interest in space and a desire to work in the aerospace industry. I’m fortunate to be able to learn about space systems through my new role as a test engineer in the Space and Airborne Systems department at L3Harris Technologies in Palm Bay, FL.

Right now, I’m working to complete environmental testing in the Space and Airborne Systems division to verify functionality of an avionic system component during a variety of environmental conditions. As a test engineer, I verify the design by cycling it through a variety of tests to simulate expected extreme conditions to ensure the system will continue to function. To conduct these tests and communicate with the technology, there are a variety of software and programming knowledge applied to generate and understand this information. Within the units there are complex electrical and mechanical systems I must understand to be able to design and conduct testing as well as diagnosing problems and errors I encounter during testing. 

The Experimental Design (ME 406) course at WSU Everett was specifically relevant. We focused on preparing, conducting, and analyzing an experiment as if we were completing these tasks for a company. The key takeaway from this course is the interaction we had with the stakeholders of the fictional companies generated by the assigned prompt. We received feedback and changes to testing procedures, test plans, presentations, and various interactions with the fictional company. I use all of that experience now on behalf of L3Harris Technologies. The exposure Washington State University offered us as students and the direct engagement in my courses at WSU Everett gave me a foundation in the testing process and procedures I see professionally.

Claire pictured bottom right with fellow student ambassadors.

 

How did student organizations shape your experience at WSU Everett?

I was involved in The Associated Students of Washington State University Everett (ASWSUE), first as a senator and secretary, and was later elected ASWSUE President during my third year at WSU Everett. For two years I served as a Student Ambassador, which allowed me to connect with incoming and future students, share my experience, and even provide tours of the campus. I was also a member of Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where I assisted in planning events like Future Engineers Day.

 

Your work was recognized with the President’s Award for Leadership. How cool was that and what advice would you give #EverCougs looking for leadership opportunities on campus?

My selection for the President’s Award for Leadership was based on my role and work as ASWSUE president, coupled with my involvement in other organizations on campus. I am honored to be a 2021 recipient of the award and for the acknowledgement of my hard work and impact on our Everett campus. As a student, I cherished my experiences in several student organizations. They truly enhanced my experience at WSU Everett. I met many of my friends because I was engaged, and had opportunities to network with local professionals, attend the National SWE Conference, and participate in community engagement.

In engineering, coursework is frequently heavily focused on technical aspects of how things function. At WSU Everett, there is also an emphasis on soft skills like communications, writing, leadership, and problem solving within a group dynamic.

Something that encouraged me to stay involved is that everyone graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at WSU has the same, ABET accredited-coursework. So, I actively sought leadership opportunities within organizations to help set me apart. The result was a greater ability to really know my peers and to network with students from other majors. The network I established at WSU Everett created study groups, academic support, and plenty of great experiences outside of school.

Current and future #EverCougs should absolutely make the time to participate in student organizations and look for leadership opportunities around campus. Your involvement on campus provides great opportunities to build your own network, develop your soft skills, and set you apart after graduation.