photo of Will Chaney with team

Current Job

President of Chaney Aerospace, LLC

Current Location

Abilene, TX

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

I wanted to be a doctor from elementary school because my Uncle was one and I thought it was a cool job, but then I took AP Biology my senior year of high school and realized I had no interest in Biology and Chemistry. Luckily someone along the way told me to apply to the Aerospace program even though it was my second choice at the time because it was harder to get into than the biology program at UT, especially if I decided I didn’t like biology and wanted to change majors to aerospace.

Which of the student projects/ organizations were you involved with as a student?

Design/Build/Fly and AUVSI - When I was involved with student projects, I would always joke with the people I worked with and say, “if we could do what we did on student projects professionally, we would love to do it.” I now do exactly that with my company and build drones with the same parts I worked with in aircraft design class. Student projects made me want to work in the field of drones.

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?

In general, just know business like associated terms and concepts. As an engineer, you aren’t really ever exposed to that, but it’s something everyone needs to know, and I had to learn that the hard way on how to write proposals and learning what terms meant all on my own.

Why did you choose one track over the other (atmospheric/space)?

Space always interested me more as a kid, but I realized that I wanted to work on the side of aerospace that I actually had a chance to see a project I worked on be used or maybe use it myself. Atmospheric offered that more in my opinion. People get to work on aircraft designs that they may end up flying in commercially a few years later.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate career goal is to grow a business that provides Unmanned Aerial Systems to everyday users. This means engineering the best possible designs that keeps cost low, ease of use for the customer, and providing a system that is robust.

What has been your most influential ASE or EM course and why?

Aircraft Design. I was involved in a lot of student projects and was always upstairs in the lab building aircraft and that is what led me to take this class.

What is one piece of advice you have for undergraduate students? 

Don’t feel obligated to rush through college, take your time if you need to. I tried to cram my schedule when I was a freshman, but then learned I could take fewer hours and was able to participate in more activities because of it. I would recommend taking more control courses, but in order to do that, you have to go to graduate school or go outside of your Aerospace degree and take classes through electrical engineering.

Do you have a favorite memory as a UT aerospace student?

The 2012 DBF competition in Kansas. That year, there was a tornado that hit about half a mile away from our hotel and damaged the flying field. The last day of competition was cancelled, but we called up other teams and got together and still informally finished the competition we worked all semester for.

List three things that most people don’t know about you.

1. I raised show lambs and show goats from elementary school through high school.

2. I was a drummer in my high school band.

3. I played guitar for a band called “The Popular Special” in high school.