[Headline: Eric Maglio, Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems division mechanical engineer]
Jay Smith: How did you get involved with model aviation?
Eric Maglio: I got into model aviation when I was about seven years old. I started with some very simple one- and two-channel electric models, and progressed from there. I began scratch-building airplanes when I was about 14.
JS: How has model aviation impacted your life and/or career?
EM: I always knew I’d have a career in aviation, though I think that model aviation helped me decide to work on unmanned aircraft systems. It relates more closely to model aviation than most other aerospace fields, which allows me to make use of my RC experience.
JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?
EM: I still fly models for fun, and quite often. I’m interested in a broad array of disciplines and like to build interesting and unique models. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot with FPV and autonomous flight.
JS: What are your other hobbies?
EM: As far as other hobbies go, I’m also a full-scale pilot, although, if I had to choose, I’d stick with model aviation. It’s cheaper, and mishaps have smaller consequences.
JS: What was your major in college and did building and flying models help prepare you?
EM: I majored in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue University [in West Lafayette, Indiana]. It seemed like a natural avenue of study, since I knew I wanted to be involved in aircraft design. It’s fulfilling to start with a concept on paper and work through the design process until it becomes a flying aircraft.
My model building experience gave me background knowledge that helped me make informed design choices. It could never be a substitute for the engineering method, but I developed an intuition for whether a given idea would or wouldn’t work.
JS: What advice could you give young model aviation pilots who are thinking about their futures?
EM: I think young model aviation pilots should definitely consider a future in aerospace engineering, especially unmanned systems. A lot of skills from RC model building are applicable, and prospective employers will notice that experience. Plus, it’s very enjoyable to work in a field that is similar to your own hobbies and interests.[dingbat]