Aerospace and Defense Career Trek

Author: Ryan Dixon, Class of '19

This was the first year for students to participate in the Aerospace Career Trek. Students gained exposure to the many career paths available within the industry, learned first-hand the importance of networking, and were able to see the innovation and the technology that is being used to protect our country and push limits in space exploration.


    During the afternoon of our first day on the Aerospace & Defense Career Trek, we visited SAIC in El Segundo, California. While we were on site, a few of the senior members of SAIC’s team were able to give us a presentation on the company’s background in the defense industry, some of its goals, and how they are pursuing new strategies for creating solutions to some of the most complex problems in defense and space.

            We were also lucky enough to see a technical demonstration of the way in which SAIC is changing the way that it designs and deploys information technology and modeling solutions to customers, as well as hear about how emerging technologies are beginning to effect the industry as a whole. Furthermore, we enjoyed hearing about the various career paths which many individuals at the company had taken to arrive there, and asking questions concerning their experiences and what drives them to do the work they do. We also gained general lessons on how to apply engineering principles and the critical thinking skills intrinsic to the field to our work as an industry continually evolves and changes with the progression of the technology that drives it. Their passion for their work and commitment to a mission-focused mindset in creating solutions for today and tomorrow’s defense needs was evident throughout the time we spent at SAIC.

            This experience was particularly valuable because, not only did it grant further exposure to trends in the evolution of the aerospace and defense industry, it also showed another side of the industry as a whole in the role of a technology integrator which values ingenuity in how resources are used to create efficient, effective solutions.


Ryan Dixon, Class of '19




  To start the day, we were fortunate enough to visit Raytheon and get a tour. Specifically, we saw a lot of the space and airborne business. Our tour guide, Terry,  shared additional information on the site location and he took the time to explain personal insights as well. In particular, he harped that we were the younger generation that would be replacing him when he retires and he wants to be able to trust the job we will do with Raytheon, as well as at other companies, that will directly translate to the security of our nation.

    The tour included a look into a lab that worked on an imaging satellite that is able to provide more clear pictures in low light situations AKA nighttime. We also got to see a few other locations such as a chamber in which acoustic testing is done. This was so interesting because it reduced nearly all the echo noise inside of it. The site visit concluded with an information session in a conference room. The man conducting it did a great job and gave a really authentic glimpse into the company. Everyone there was very friendly. Overall, it was a great visit to Raytheon! 


Mark Hamalian, Class of '19




    Today was our third and final day of the Aerospace and Defense Career Trek. Along with visiting some of the biggest movers in the industry, we were also able to visit some smaller companies and startups, one of which was DAQRI.


    DAQRI is a small engineering company that is developing Augmented Reality for use in the industrial setting. They developed their own software and hardware so that they would better integrate with each other. This system seeks to help train workers, allow technicians with long distance troubleshooting, and much more.


    We also had the great opportunity to meet with one of the product managers of the company, Frank. Frank was an alumni of Notre Dame and he talked to us about his experiences and what he learned throughout his career. His position is Product Manager, and he gave an in-depth look into the responsibility and key character traits of what makes a good manager. Some points that he made is that a product manager is often times the filler between all involved with the product. He must have enough technical knowledge to understand his product while having the communication skills to talk with the customers, for example. He must also represent the party that is not present. To his engineers, he must represent the needs of the customers, while to the customer he must honestly represent the abilities of his engineers.


Ethan Chu, Class of '19