Meet Our People: Erik M.

This engineer’s work in vibration analysis ensures space programs run smoothly.
Picture of a deep space landscape

In honor of Engineers Week, Aerospace is spotlighting a few of our many great engineers and getting a peek at the exciting projects that they’re focused on. Keep checking back to Meet Our People all this week! 

Erik M

Name: Erik

Alma Mater: B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan; Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (as part of the Aerospace Corporate Fellowship Program)

Department: Structural Dynamics Department

Can you tell us about the work you do here at The Aerospace Corporation?

I am the Director of the Structural Dynamics Department. We specialize in developing analytical processes, models, and simulations to predict and understand the vibrations experienced by launch vehicles and spacecraft during their missions. This involves everything from the large vibrations that could damage a rocket during launch to the very small vibrations that can impact the ability of high-precision satellites to perform their mission. Our work is a mix of computational and experimental. We spend some of our time using computers to write and run complicated simulation software, while the rest of our focus is on performing tests and analyzing data to anchor our models and analyses.

Who or what inspires you? Why?

I am inspired by the next difficult problem. Working at Aerospace, my group is often brought in after other engineers have struggled to come up with a solution. Being able to develop a plan and act on it to solve a problem that others couldn't is a very rewarding experience.

When was the moment you realized that you wanted to make this your career?

I've wanted to be an engineer since I was about 12 years old. As a kid, I was fascinated by NASA and the Space Shuttle program. It blew my mind that people could conceive of, and then go out and build, something as complicated as the Shuttle. When I found out that I could be involved in something like that by becoming an engineer, I was hooked.

What work outside of your own department is Aerospace doing that excites you the most?

I'm excited by the idea of being able to launch a satellite or a group of satellites on short notice. Currently, launches are planned for years for a specific launch configuration. The idea of choosing your launch configuration days or weeks before launch (instead of years) gets my head spinning with all the ways Aerospace could contribute.

Why did you choose to work at Aerospace?

Aerospace offered a great balance of being involved with the space industry while maintaining a research focus. Developing solutions that are driven by a desire for the best technical answer instead of profit was very attractive to me.

What advice would you give to an engineer joining The Aerospace Corporation?

Work as hard as you can. Volunteer for any assignments available – even if you don't currently have all the skills you need to complete them. Don't be hesitant to study and learn new skills or try new things. If you become a reliable contributor in your group, the recognition and promotions will follow close behind.

If you're interested in joining the Aerospace team, be sure to visit our careers page.