Brian Frascella is a product engineer at Moog Inc., an MBA candidate at the University at Buffalo, and contributor to the Careers and Education in Engineering blog on designnews.com. Design News spoke with Brian to discuss his career at Moog and where engineering has taken him so far.
DN: As an engineering student, where did you picture yourself?
Frascella: I always had a love for skiing, and I thought it would be cool to go to school for mechanical engineering, and design my own skis. I hadn’t thought so far ahead as to my “dream job.”
DN: After the initial shock of starting a new job, what did you find helped you adjust to life at Moog?
Frascella: There were a couple of things that helped; building relationships with the people I work with, for example. I also got in touch with the people who built the product I was writing a report on. Getting my hands on the product and getting my hands dirty really gave me a sense of how the product worked.
DN: Is there anything your school could have done to better prepare you for a job in the “real world?”
Frascella: There are two things; the first is from a mechanical point of view. A lot of the work in school is math and formula-based, which you do need, but in the working world everything is more hands-on and the more experience you can get that way the better off you’ll be. The second is in manufacturing engineering and machining properties. There are only one, maybe two classes on milling, grinding, tuning, etc., and if there was more of a background or basis on manufacturing it would help a lot because so much is based on how the product is made.
DN: At Moog you are working on the “Electric Flight Simulation.” Could you elaborate a little on what that is?
Frascella: It is a six-actuator, electric, motion-based flight simulator rated for a 30,000 lb load, with an FAA level D certification, and it is for the military and commercial base. The engineers put a cockpit on top of our motion base with an IMAX-type screen in front of the cockpit, and it is built like a real cockpit with the pilot and co-pilot seats with an extra seat behind the trainee seats for the trainer. What it can do is simulate real flights, and the trainer can put the trainees in a number of scenarios where you can be in a really foggy day or have an engine blow out, etc. It is so realistic that a pilot doesn’t need to get in a real airplane, they can do all of their certification training in a simulator. I actually got to fly it a couple of times. I like to think that I’m spoiled at my job by being able to work on this.
DN: Did getting in the simulator yourself help you to better understand the product?
Frascella: Absolutely, yes. I’ve never flown a plane or anything like it, but getting to try it out really helped. We get feedback from our customer and our customer’s customer, but it’s all just feedback. To get in there yourself you can say “Oh that’s how that feels” or “OK, that’s what they were talking about.” As an engineer it can help you better your product to know how it feels.
DN: What has been the biggest challenge for you on this project?
Frascella: The toughest part was remembering the mechanical basics I learned in college. There was a year or two that I hadn’t done work in mechanical so I had to dig up the old things I learned in school, but mechanical engineering was my first love so I enjoyed doing that.