In this month’s SC Aerospace News, we are spotlighting Robert (Will) Mitchell, a mechanical engineering student at USC who is actively engaged in the aerospace cluster here in SC. He works at the McNAIR Center, volunteered at Aerospace Industry Day and attended the Celebrate Freedom SOAR Summer Camp.
Here is our Q&A with him:
Q: Where did you attend high school?
A: Dutch Fork High School, spending half of my senior year there and the other half at the Center for Advanced Technical studies, a magnet school of sorts where I took Intro to Aerospace Engineering and Senior Design.
Q: Tell us more about yourself?
A: I am an only child, my mother Cindy Mitchell co-runs Dixie Heating and Cooling, the first place I worked. I was an HVAC Assistant Technician; a lot of my technical knowledge came from this job.
My Father Robert Mitchell is a retired Air Force avionics expert and technician. He served in the Gulf War, working on F-16’s and other aircraft. He is currently doing corporate security for TD Bank, South Carolina.
Q: When and how did you become interested in aviation and aerospace?
A: What really pushed my interest in aviation and aerospace was my father teaching me about airplanes and flying. He’d always tell me stories of working out on the airstrip at McEntire Air Force Base and I wanted to be just like him.
Q: What is your major? Where are you at in the program?
A: I’m currently enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program and I’m in my sophomore year. Having a job at the McNAIR Center has motivated me; it gives me a place to apply what I’m learning from the Mechanical Engineering program to real life scenarios.
Q: You attended the SOAR Aviation Summer Camp. What were the highlights of that experience?
A: I attended the SOAR Aviation program back in the summer of 2012, the summer right before my senior year of High school. I made friends, met interesting characters, had firsthand experience in the aviation industry and I was able to work with engineers in the industry to achieve goals set by the camp.
I think that my most memorable moment at SOAR was the trip out to SHAW Air force base. I was able to sit right at the edge of the tarmac, hear and feel the roar of the F-16s as they started up and watch them take off flying into the horizon. It was simply an amazing experience.
Q: What career plans do you have?
A: I’d like to continue down the path that I am on. Currently I assist in the Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) Lab and help run the Hot Press Machine. By working in these two labs, I have been able to help professors run experiments, getting to know many of the Faculty, as well as graduate students in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I love to help out with research and love to make parts for people’s projects and grants.