High Hopes: A lifelong fascination with aerospace

By Debra Smith For The Herald

Samuel Yossef, 38

City: Everett

Program: Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University (Everett)

Q: How did you come to enroll in this program?

A: I’m originally from Ethiopia: I moved from Seattle to Everett to work as an electrician for Boeing. Boeing had a great program that would pay for my education while working. I discovered it would take two years longer, balancing work and school. I had to make a tough choice. I decided to quit work, take on the full financial burden but graduate two years faster.

Q: Why change career paths?

A: My interest in mechanical engineering is because I have an inclination toward that area. It’s the broadest engineering field and it’s very flexible. I can take many different paths. I’ve always been interested in aerospace — it’s been my passion since I was a kid. I’ve always been fascinated by Boeing. There’s strong support of the product in Ethiopia. I had family members who were pilots and, early on, it gave me a passion for aviation. I didn’t want to be a pilot. I wanted to understand how planes operate.

Q: What would be your ideal first job after you earn a degree?

A: I want to get into design. I think it would be a challenging position, working on state-of-the-art technology and design for specific projects. In the long run, once I gain enough technical experience, I might want to morph into technical sales.

Q: Do you follow Boeing in the news? How do you feel about the company’s prospects?

A: I feel very good about them. The 787 was a big project and a big challenge for the company. The research and development took a lot of investment from the company. I read somewhere the company would need to sell a thousand planes to make a profit. But the technology it provides can be used on all the other programs. It’s a huge benefit.

Q: Would you be willing to relocate to get the right job, or would you prefer to stay in the Puget Sound area?

A: I would be willing to relocate for the right job. My primary focus is on Boeing. With the multitude of positions they have available, I doubt I’ll be looking elsewhere.

Q: When did you first travel by air, and where did you go?

A: My first flight was from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). I was six. It was an amazing experience: the takeoff and sitting and feeling the pressure and the turbulence. I think I got sick.

Q: What will transportation be like in 50 years?

A: I think the market efficiency and the range of small planes is increasing. More small planes will be traveling with more frequency.

Learn more

WSU recently started offering engineering courses at Everett Community College. The number of engineering slots will increase as the program receives more funding, as part of the a cash infusion for engineering at state universities. The first batch of WSU engineering students in Everett just started.

Washington State University mechanical engineering program in Everett: www.mme.wsu.edu/wsuMEuce

Washington State University College of Engineering and Architecture: www.cea.wsu.edu