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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Momentum Member Spotlight – June 2015

    AIAA Congratulates Casey Kelby

    by Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

     

    Casey KelbyHomesick from its recent overseas journey, the spotlight swung back to the states this month, falling on Warrington, Pennsylvania, and illuminating Casey Kelby, an Aerospace Project Engineer at Dunmore Corporation.

    Joining AIAA as a student member in 2013, Kelby graduated from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, Virginia, in 2014, with a degree in aerospace engineering and minors in astronomy and mathematics. Since joining Dunmore Corporation she has served in a multitude of roles, telling me “I am in the sales department but function primarily as a technical contact. The majority of my time is utilized engaging with customers; everything from sending quotations to day-to-day inquiries about our spacecraft materials. Additionally, I lead special quality assurance projects regarding our spacecraft materials and internal systems. I blog on Dunmore's Functional Films blog (www.dunmore.com/functional-films/) and tweet on behalf of the organization occasionally (@DunmoreCorp / @caseykelbs).”

    Kelby found her inspiration to enter the aerospace profession in air shows, especially the one at Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, near her childhood home in Pennsylvania. Kelby stated, “My neighbor was an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War, so we always went with him to air shows. I marveled at the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.” Kelby also found inspiration in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” television program, and through discussions of the historical Apollo moon landings with her parents. All of these influences combined to thoroughly “hook” Kelby on aerospace as a career choice.

    When asked about her favorite aerospace memory, Kelby singled out AIAA SciTech 2015, relaying: “It was wonderful attending sessions and speaking with other engineers in the Exposition Hall. Even the Twitter conversation was interesting.” She concluded with a shout-out for AIAA AVIATION, June 22–26, Dallas, Texas, saying “I am now preparing Dunmore’s booth for AVIATION 2015; I’ll see you in booth 408!”

    Because she was recently in college as an aerospace engineering major, Kelby had some advice for college students looking to enter the aerospace profession. She counseled, “I think my best advice is to never give up. Aerospace is challenging and I felt challenged every day. Although I look back on college fondly, it took me five long years.” She continued, “You learn a lot about your work ethic and stamina when you enter a fast-paced program.” She concluded with some practical advice, advising students to “get on LinkedIn, it’s a great resource to showcase your education and work experience, even your clubs,” all of which will allow you to network and connect with others on similar career paths and with similar life experiences.

    For high school kids who may be thinking about entering aerospace as a profession, she advised: “Challenge yourself every day! Learn something new, join a robotics team, thrust yourself into every air or space museum you can.” Kelby pointed out that her advice stems from her own experiences, saying “My biggest downfall,” upon entering college, “was the sense of feeling behind in my industry, all of the other students could name every aircraft from its wing profile, and I think I’m still catching up.” She also advised students to “take every single science and math course that interests you but take some English too; being an engineer who can communicate effectively is a win-win.”

    For those in the profession looking to make a difference and encourage the next generation, Kelby gave this counsel: “I think the best bet is to seek out young people. I came from a family with little college experience and no engineers to speak of. I stumbled upon aerospace by accident. I try every day to help out educators and students – from tutoring, to conference attendance, to Take Your Child to Work Day; I am trying to do everything I can."

    We closed the interview with a discussion about how to encourage women to entering engineering as part of building a more diverse workforce. Kelby feels that encouragement begins at home with parents, reporting: “My mom always told me to ‘reach for the stars’ and that’s exactly what I did. Her encouragement got me to where I am today.” She finished with this plea to the community: “So please, encourage young women to pursue engineering and science at every chance you get. Get excited about STEM, it will make them excited too."

    AIAA congratulates Casey Kelby for being named the June 2015 AIAA member spotlight, and applauds her commitment to encouraging and helping the next generation of aerospace engineers!