Career Experience: Compressor Engineer


Fresh out of college with an Engineeing degree specialising in the design and modeling of industrial power plant cycles, it didn't take long for me to realize that between environmentalist protests and President Carter's economic recession there were few new industrial powerplants being designed and, consequently, very few new jobs. However, the U.S. Aerospace industry was still booming, and when Pratt & Whitney put a "cattle call" out for new Engineers to work on two new engine centerline designs I (and a few of my classmates) interviewed and was(were) hired almost on the spot.

Over the next eleven years I performed a wide variety of tasks in Pratt's Compressor Component Design and Engineering Group, including:
  • performance modeling and data analysis of axial flow compressors using 3-Dimensional (Streamline) analysis
  • aerodynamic test support of full-size and scaled compressor test rigs
  • hardware inspection of experimental blades and vanes
  • aerodynamic design of axial compressor blades & vanes, and fan exit guide vanes (FEGV)
  • data reduction and analysis of aerothermodynamic (pressure-temperature-flow)data
  • providing aerodynamic and data reduction/analysis test support for Pratt & Whitney's first use of Laser Doppler Velocimetry in both a multistage compressor and a counter-rotating high-speed swept fan.
  • writing, editing, layout, and desktop publishing of an interdepartmental newsletter focusing on quality for the Engineering Group
  • the occasional "G-Job"
  • ...and even reviewing a US Patent on Controlled Diffusion Airfoils.
My tasks also included creating dedicated computer programs to handle, reduce, and analyze data, defining & writing procedures, developing & providing training, vetting colleagues, and proposing and implementing databases to catalog all of the test data and analysis.

Some Work Examples...

Here are a few examples from the records I've still retained from this portion of my career:

At right is an example of a Data Reduction Flowchart proposed for reducing and comparing Laser Velocimetry (LV, or velocimetric) data to traditional aerothermodynamic (Pressure / Temperature / Flow) data. The comparisons allowed analysts to use independently-measured velocity data to improve their 2d and 3D models for loss, turning, and turbulence. Note that company-sensitive information has been redacted.
LV Data Reduction Flowchart
As a member of Pratt's first "Group Quality Team" during 1990-91 I edited and produced a newsletter for the Engineering Department's "Component Design & Technology Group". This monthly newsletter, highlighting quality activies of the various Component sub-groups, was distributed to the entire Group's 400-plus employees. It was produced on a Mac SE using "Ready, Set, Go!" v.3
(Click here for the full newsletter (pdf, 549kb))
Q+ CD&T Newsletter
When Pratt & Whitney announced a poster contest for their quality improvement initiative ("Q+"), I sarcastically asked my collegues during a lunch break "How tough could it be to design a poster?", and quickly sketched one out on a napkin. Apparently, it wasn't tough at all: Not only did my entry win, but it was so popular that upon my return to Pratt in 2001 - after beng laid off in 1991 - I still saw these posters proudly hanging throughout the manufacturing floor.
Q+ Motivational Poster

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