Braxton Woodward graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Braxton currently works as an Project Manager at Belcan Engineering.
What is your background?
I grew up in a New Jersey suburb right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My father was a computer engineer and worked on military jets in the Marines, so I was drawn to science and technology. My mother always said “If you are going to do something, do it well” and “Take pride in your work” so I was naturally successful through school. I attended Washington Township High School and had many great teachers inspire me to consider engineering. I initially considered Civil Engineering, then Mechanical, but after researching ERAU’s Propulsion track, I was sold on Aerospace Engineering.
Discuss your current role at Belcan in West Palm Beach, Fla.
I am the Project Manager for Belcan’s Diagnostics, Prognostics, and Health Management group. We leverage flight data from Pratt & Whitney Commercial and Military Engines to assess performance and safety. Our team is split into two parts. One side is dedicated to building software applications to store, process, trend, display, and integrate various data sources. The other team reviews the data, diagnoses engine issues, and communicates the necessary maintenance recommendations to troubleshoot the hardware.
What motivated you to attend Embry-Riddle?
I first heard about Embry-Riddle from my high school guidance counselor who always went above and beyond to help me with college applications. She revealed how renown ERAU was, being the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. I knew I wanted to obtain an Aerospace degree so I chose the best school I could find. Additionally, I was always fascinated by the power of gas turbines, so the Propulsion concentration ERAU offered was enough to seal the deal. Lastly, I spent a lot of summers at the beach in NJ so the opportunity to come down to the east coast of Florida was too good to pass up.
If you could re-live your college experience, what would you do differently and why?
Learn as much as I could about finance as a freshman. Being an engineer means evaluating constrains, and in industry, money is a major one. Understanding the business aspects will certainly set you apart from your peers. Second, college is costly and I didn’t fully appreciate money management until I graduated. Having knowledge of basic finance and working part time to pay off loans before they accrue interest can save a lot in the long run.
What has been the secret to your success?
I was able to determine what I was good at, and what I liked to do before searching for jobs. This empowered me to find an entry level job that was a perfect fit for my skillset and interest. Once I entered industry, I showed discipline and was dedicated to developing my proficiency. I was also fortunate to have a few mentors that provided excellent guidance where I needed it. By utilizing my strengths and enjoying the work I do, everything came naturally.
What are your long term career goals?
I would like to run a small company one day. I’ve found success as a leader but do not want to rise into an executive position that disconnects me too far from the employees. I like “getting my hands dirty” in the technical work and mentoring others. I would do best operating a small group or company in which I can stay actively involved with the employees and their work.
What advice do you have for students to be successful in the job market?
Dedicate yourself to your discipline of choice and commit to excellence. It takes a long time to build experience in industry and this is often misunderstood by college students who are accustomed to multiple classes/projects every semester. Some entry level engineers succumb to the fallacy of being “well rounded” by bouncing around the job market a few times in the first couple years to build their resumes with a wide array of experiences. To an employer, this may show you haven’t found something you like yet or you aren’t very experienced in any one area. Be honest with yourself and find something you are interested in. You will be much happier coming to work every day if you enjoy the work you do.