Class Proceedings: Miles Petersen - The Source

Class Proceedings: Miles Petersen – The Source

For some people, an airplane symbolizes escape, perhaps even escape, but Miles Petersen has a different perspective.

“I think flying is really amazing. Seeing a plane flying overhead is just magical, “he said. But he can’t imagine getting away from it all.” Planes play a positive role in today’s world, “he said.” They connect people. They bring families together. “

Petersen plans to graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McKelvey School of Engineering and – no surprise here – a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering.

For Petersen, planes connect him to other aerospace enthusiasts; they connect his life in St. Louis to his friends and family in his native Delaware; and the planes connect his past to his future, a future working at aerospace giant Boeing Co. in Seattle.

Petersen can’t remember a time when he wasn’t crazy about planes. “I’ve always loved the window seat,” he said. In high school, he asked for an aerospace engineering textbook for his birthday, a book he still has on hand.

When he arrived at WashU, Petersen wasted no time, joining the first year of the Design Build Fly (DBF) team. Hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, DBF is an annual competition, each year with different themes but always with the same goal: “We come together to find an approach, design an airplane and then fly it”.

The plane flew briefly … and then crashed. However, Petersen remembered him as one of his most emotional WashU memories of him. “One of the most rewarding experiences was when I saw our freshman year of the plane and the tail of the plane was the shape I had designed it to be. It was great to see my work as part of a bigger piece.”

Despite the incident, she continued to follow him, even becoming the administrative president of the DBF. Meanwhile, he also won the Linda Kral Prize for Outstanding Acmplishments in the Aerospace Engineering Society and was elected to the Pi Tau Sigma Honorary Mechanical Engineering Society.

This year, Petersen said, the first iteration of their plane didn’t fly. “But we got together, we rebuilt it to collect data and we had one of the most successful days in the club’s history,” he said, with 10 successful flights and landings.

The Design Build Fly team poses at the 2022 contest. (Photo courtesy of Miles Petersen)

At the national competition, held in May, the team achieved its best ever finish, placing 11th out of around 100 university teams across the country.

Petersen’s background is not necessarily an aerospace engineer. His parents are in the humanities, both art historians. They have been nothing but extremely supportive, Petersen said. “That said, I think my father may wish I had taken more humanities classes.”

His next stop is Seattle, where he secured a job at Boeing as a weight engineer, making sure the aircraft components are balanced and not overweight.

“I’ve always had the ultimate goal of working in the aviation industry,” he said. “It’s kind of surreal. I can not wait to start”.

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