Wiede Koop Cutshall

Job Title

Owner, Chief Engineer

Employer

Cutshall Consulting, LLC

Location

San Antonio, TX

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?  

Growing up, I loved figuring out how things worked, and of all subjects we studied in grade school I most enjoyed the various mathematics classes. Once I started investigating available degree plans, I figured out that something in the engineering fields would likely be a good match for my aptitudes and interests. I had been fascinated by the stars and the idea of space exploration my whole life, so that guided me to the aerospace program. It didn’t hurt that the first NASA Space Shuttle launch occurred during my sophomore year of high school, a day I remember vividly as we were given the opportunity to view the televised launch at school. 

Describe your current position. 

I am an engineering consultant, focused primarily on structural analysis and FAA certification of aircraft modifications and repairs. Most of my work involves building and using computer simulations of aircraft structures to evaluate changes we want to make. I have also occasionally taught specialized courses in use of analytical methods and computer simulation software in aircraft structural substantiation. 

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

Those two questions have the same answer: I love having a flexible schedule, but that flexibility also sometimes has disadvantages. 

What are your career goals? 

I’m there: I control my time & schedule, I have interesting work that I enjoy doing, and I personally like many of the colleagues I regularly interact with. 

Which of the following student projects / organizations were you involved with in ASE/EM? 

AIAA, SGT, and AHS 

If you participated in student projects and / or organizations, how did your experience in these group/s help prepare you for your career? 

Participating in student organizations helped me get used to interacting with my peers. I had a very shy, reserved personality, so it was important for me to get this type of practice prior to entering the workforce. Also, transitioning to the local professional AIAA chapter after graduation provided networking opportunities in a broader aerospace community than just the company I worked for. 

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

I was a co-op student at NASA/JSC. During my four co-op tours I was able to zero in on my primary interests within the broad range of opportunity an aerospace degree offers. I also made some life-long friends! 

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

Work experience is always good, and does not have to be degree-related to show responsibility, dependability and interpersonal skills. 

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

Statistics: I took this several years later, and found it to be much more interesting and useful than expected. 

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

At the time I was at UT, the differences between the atmospheric and space flight options were structured a bit differently than the current plan. I chose space flight since I was interested in things like orbital mechanics and the space program, but my primary interest was structures (at that time a structures concentration was available in either track). Even though I took the space flight option, I have spent virtually my entire career working in the aircraft industry, so no, it probably did not make much difference. 

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

Dr. Roy Craig taught the class that introduced me to computerized methods used in structural analysis – he was also instrumental in development of some of those methods! 

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

EM 319 Solid Mechanics: This class built the foundation for the rest of my career. It was taught by a civil engineering graduate student, Peter Lodde, who had amazingly high standards (most difficult class I had ever taken up to that point!), but his teaching methods made learning difficult concepts possible, and he showed us how very interesting the subject could be. 

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

Take a risk: be willing to try things that are outside your comfort zone. 

Are you still working in the aerospace engineering field? If not, why? 

Yes, and I love what I do. 

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

While at UT I met my future husband, Jon, a fellow ASE student. We have now been married almost 30 years, and occasionally even work together. 

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

1. I am an artist, working primarily with wire and fused glass. 

2. I am a long-time volunteer (since it started in 1994) with San Antonio BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science & Technology), an all-volunteer educational non-profit organization that encourages K-12 students to pursue technical careers. 

3. I love to hike, and regularly volunteer at a local state natural area.