Curtis Barton graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach with a degree in Aerospace Engineering in May 2019 and currently works as a Flight Controls Engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics at the Skunk Works®.
What is your background?
I graduated May 2019 from ERAU with a degree in Aerospace Engineering on the Aeronautics track. During my time at ERAU I was a member of the Skydiving Club, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Design/Build/Fly (DBF) team. My junior year I was the Chief Engineer of the DBF team, and my senior year I was the Team Lead of the DBF team and the president of the AIAA student chapter. Currently, I work for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics at the Skunk Works®. My primary role is Flight Controls Engineer. As a Flight Controls Engineer, I am responsible for the development and analysis of flight control law and the flight simulator.
How has ERAU prepared you for your role at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics?
ERAU provided me with unique skills that set me apart from my colleagues and made me uniquely suited for my position. ERAU’s Aerospace Engineering department heavily emphasizes their Stability and Control as well as Flight Dynamics courses. Additionally, it has some of the best Flight Controls engineering professors in the nation. Their curriculum provided me with MATLAB and SIMULINK skills far beyond what is typical for a recent graduate. Additionally, being an ERAU alum has put me in contact with many individuals in the field who have been very valuable resources during my first year.
If you could re-live your college experience, what would you do differently and why?
If I could relive my college experience, I would join AIAA much sooner than I did. I didn’t get involved with it until the very end of my sophomore year and missed out on a lot of incredible opportunities those first two years. I also met some of my best friends through AIAA.
Additionally, I would take the time to cook for myself instead of eating so much Sodexo.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Coming to work at Skunk Works every day. This has been my dream for years and being able to work here still feels surreal. Other than that, I was elected to run the New Skunks Council for 2020. The Council is a group of first- and second-year employees who work to help integrate new hires into the culture of Lockheed Martin. Being the next leader of the council has given me many opportunities to network with people in the company outside of those I would see during my day to day technical work.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue my studies part time and get a Master of Aerospace Engineering Degree. I then hope to move into technical leadership with Lockheed Martin and grow my career here.
What advice do you have for students to land that first internship? That first full-time position?
I learned two very important lessons while searching for a job. First, never stop trying. I received 218 rejection letters for internships and full-time positions over the course of my college career. I made sure I was at every Lockheed Martin recruiting event and was always one of the first people in line at their booth at the career fair. I made sure that by my senior year they knew who I was, so when my resume came up, they could put a face to a name. The second piece of advice I have is join a professional organization. Not only does it look good on a resume, but it provides you with a fantastic professional network that can connect you with the right people. I got my job at an AIAA conference where I ran into a recruiter who recognized me from ERAU. He knew a manger at the conference that had a job opening and introduced us. If I hadn’t been a member of AIAA I wouldn’t have had that opportunity, and would probably not have gotten my dream job.