Khalil Jones

Level: Undergraduate

Khalil Jones

How did you become interested in engineering and of UW A&A in particular? Tell us more about your pathways leading you here. 

I wasn't aware of engineering as a field until late middle school when I saw it as a good outlet to use all of my math and science skills while solving super interesting problems. I started to learn more about engineering and gained some practical skills when I moved on to high school and did “Project Lead-The-Way” and joined my school's FIRST robotics team, Viking Robotics.

Later on in high school, I completed the Washington Aerospace Scholars program and that ignited my passion for all things space related. I soon applied to the UW for their solid A&A program and all of the local aerospace connections here in Washington. When I arrived, I joined the STARS Program and it shaped me into the engineering student I am today by sharpening my basic math and science skills while improving my studying habits.

Tell us about your interesting internships, activities and research lab experience. 

I joined the Fins Team of the Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion (SARP). On the team, I have done a lot of work with selecting different fin geometries by looking at how to lower drag while increasing stability, creating the current wind tunnel model, as well as composite layups to assemble the final fins.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern at Blue Origin working on the New Shepard Vehicle Integration team. Throughout my time there, I learned a lot about how Blue manufactures rockets, how they fix certain issues that can appear during the process, as well as design some ground support equipment to speed up the vehicle integration process and provide increased access to the integration engineers working on the vehicle.

Most recently, I joined the Williams Lab to design an enclosure to put around the 3x3 wind tunnel and the new Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) system to enhance testing.

What do you enjoy most about A&A?

What I enjoy most about A&A is how broad it is for a very specific field. There are so many different aspects of A&A, ranging from plasmas to controls and everything in between. If I ever lose interest in an aspect of A&A, there is always a different part to go learn about while still working on the projects that I find the most interesting. Additionally, the aerospace industry is one of the most exciting industries to be a part of right now with so many interesting goals being pursued like Blue's push for human spaceflight and NASA's Artemis program.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

My advice to prospective students is to get as much practical experience as possible, as well as to have a strong grasp of the fundamentals. Having a practical grasp of how things physically work and how they go together is just as important as knowledge learned from classes. Design tends to become easier and more effective when you have a good understanding of how things are physically put together and what issues could arise. As for the fundamentals, most things in engineering build off of previous things so things tend to progress more smoothly when the basics of a topic are well understood.