photo of Jerry Whitten

Job Title

I'm retired now. My last job title: Regional Director, Marketing - The Americas

Former Employer

The Boeing Company (Commercial Airplanes)

Current Location

Bellingham, WA

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree? 

I was interested in aviation and it was the best choice for pursuing a career in that field.

What student projects/organizations were you involved within ASE/EM?

Sigma Gamma Tau.

How did did these groups help prepare you for your career?

None of the above organizations existed when I was a student. Getting a summer job at an aerospace firm, an engineering company or an airline was the only real means of getting practical career experience.

Were you involved in any fellowships or internships? If so, please explain and discuss the benefits.

Internships didn't really exist when I was a student at UT; instead, I had summer jobs. I worked for several companies to earn money to pay for my college expenses. Among these, I was an engineering aide in the aerodynamics staff at LTV. This involved lots of detailed and somewhat tedious hand calculation processes that estimated aerodynamic forces. It made me consider whether I had made the right career choice.

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs? If so, please explain.

You will need to have some basic knowledge of business principles. It's also very important to be able to write and speak concisely and persuasively. If possible, do some traveling and get out in the world; it will give you needed perspective.

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

Basic business and economics to helped broaden my skills. World history because it's necessary to understand the events of the current time and put them in perspective. Geography because the world has always interested me.

What are your career goals?

I'm retired now, so my goals are to enjoy life by traveling, involving myself in family, community affairs and whatever I'm curious about.

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

John Westkaemper. He was the supervising professor for my master’s degree. He had work experience and used it to provide practical knowledge as part of his teaching.

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

ASE 360, airplane performance, stability and control. This taught me to understand the basics of flight operations, which essentially is the product that I sold to customers during my years in marketing and sales at the Boeing Co.

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

Follow what your heart tells you about your career choice and put everything you've got into it! Be willing to take risks when they represent opportunities. If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life!

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

I have many favorite memories; some standouts are:

Sharing the experience with so many outstanding fellow students.

Running the Mach 5.0 wind tunnel at the DRL for my Master's thesis. Working with Pinkey Pruitt there was a joy.

Passing Dr. Yuan's High Speed Aero course on the first try.

Completing my senior airplane performance project (evaluation of a Mooney Mark 21).

Acing Dr. Miller's airplane performance final!

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

I can speak Spanish.

I was a ski instructor.

I authored Boeing's first assessment of the Chinese market.