photo of Andy Rector

Current Job

Engineering Director, Intelligent Airports

Current Employer

GE Aviation

Current Location

Austin, TX

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

I've loved aviation since I can remember. When I found out there was a way to apply my math toward that, I was sold.

Describe your current position.

I recently changed positions, in order to lead the engineering effort, for a startup business within GE Aviation. We are taking our industrial internet platform, Predix, and applying our expertise into adjacent markets. I joined GE through the acquisition of a startup called Austin Digital, appropriately based here in Austin. I was chosen to lead this group based on my unique combination of engineering excellence and startup thinking within a large corporation.

What do you like most about your job? What do you find most challenging?

I love that we have the resources of a large company, and the culture of a small company. Every day is a new challenge. The best part, though, is our people. We've invested heavily in recruiting the right talent to join our growing team. It really is a unique group of eclectic people that make it fun to come into work every day.

Were you involved in any fellowships or internships? If so, please explain.

I worked at a startup throughout my academic career. While this didn't help my GPA, it did give me four years of real experience prior to graduating. The people and technology I worked with laid the foundation for the leader I am today.

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

Music.

Are there courses at UT you wish you had taken? If so, which ones and why?

Astronomy. To me it is crazy to have an ASE degree but to not know what Mars looks like in the night sky.

Why did you choose one track over the other (atmospheric/space)? Do you feel this has made any difference in your career?

I chose space because I was being exposed to atmospheric at my job. I really enjoyed what I learned there, and applied the GPS advanced courses to some technical work I did years ago. I'm happy with this decision because it rounded out my aerospace expertise, even though my focus is atmospheric flight.

Who was your most influential ASE or EM professor and why?

Dr. Sean Buckley. I failed Dr. Buckley's class because I didn't turn in my homework. I failed to note what a significant portion of the grade was driven by homework. I had the highest test average, and the lowest homework score, resulting in a failing grade. Despite my pleas, Professor Buckley failed me. However, we became good friends as we respected each other. I went on to take two more classes from him and stay in touch with him to this day. He is a phenomenal teacher, and I was very sad when I heard he was leaving UT to go to JPL.

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

All of Dr. Buckley's courses (see above).

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

Make friends early, as they'll help you get through it. Focus on the process of solving problems, as that is what will matter in the long run. Try to have some fun - you'll get through it.