My Senior Design Project, the “Phoenix”

I currently work as an engineer for a company that makes commercial airline
seats. Now, even though my diploma says I’m an Aerospace Engineer, in
practice, my job calls for more Mechanical Engineering and Computer-Aided
Design work. Nothing flies. We just make things that go into things that

In a few weeks, I’ll be celebrating having worked at my company for two
years. That’s a decent amount of time to get familiar with everything
having to do with making a commercial airline seat. You’d be surprised and
amazed at all the (engineering) work that goes into an airline seat! Psh,
I’m amazed and surprised myself!

Did you know this is an emoji for iOS?!

Whenever you’re in engineering/design, you spend a lot of time looking at
parts and learning how those parts are made. There are so many ways to
turn different materials into various shapes possessing the properties
necessary to make a particular design work successfully. As the engineer,
you have to know these processes and materials so that you can design a
part that performs predictably to achieve form, fit, and function while
keeping in mind safety and cost (and weight, because the aerospace industry
is always interested in dieting because more weight = more fuel = more

When designing a part, usually the engineer designs it with specific
intent. The very shape of the part is not arbitrary usually. The material
a particular part is made of usually imposes certain restrictions of the
size and shape of the part. I mean, this only scratches the surface of all
the considerations that an engineer must…consider…but the main point is
this: parts aren’t designed out of the blue–they are purposefully designed
with particular intent!

With that said, since I’ve been working for a while in the industry, I’m
getting better at being able to discern the purpose and process of
individual parts that go into our airline seats. For example, there are
only so many ways to form plastic…but I can look at plastic parts and
judging from how it looks, I can tell whether it was created by injection
molding or through vacuum forming. Or maybe it was done via
rapid-prototyping (or “printed out” via 3D printing).

It’s cool to look at hardware like screws, nuts, bolts, rivets, clips, etc
and be able to decide, based on the purpose of the hardware, the best way
to utilize the hardware to achieve the result that I want.  Sometimes a rivet makes more sense to install rather than nut and bolt.  For example, the skin and wings of older airplanes are just sheets of metal riveted together.  You don’t want to use screws or nuts and bolts because they can loosen over time, but rivets act as more permanent clamps.

Anyway!  I could go on, but I would get too nerdy.

As much as I aspire to be an awesome aerospace/mechanical engineer, I’m always out-engineer’d by God.  I look at the birds in the sky, and they remind me how amazing of an aerospace engineer God is.  It took us humans a long time to figure out flight, and even then…the things we fly often has to be piloted.  Birds, on the other hand, are instinctively built to fly–they know how to fly and live flight.  Considering the anatomy of the bird, it is easy to see the bird’s nature of being something-that-can-take-flight.

Which leads me to…the human body.  It is truly a marvel of divine engineering.  Every shape, part and process of the human body is purposeful, down to the last boson (hah, relevant vocab!).  You know, since God made us in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26), surely we can discern God’s nature by examining the human body.  There is such a thing as a study of God through the human body.  

One guy talked about a “theology of the body” 129 times back in the 1980’s:

Yes, Blessed Pope John Paul II spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means to be man and woman created in the image and likeness of God.  Because a creation should reveal something about its Creator.  And just as an engineer designs with intent…so does the Creator.

Nothing about the human body and the nature it reveals is arbitrary.  Humanity is God’s finest engineering feat.

– JD