Savoie (’18): From BFA to Aerospace Engineer

Alexander Savoie (18)

Alexander Savoie (’18)

Cooper O'Connell, Editor

Alexander Savoie (‘18) is a Bellows Free Academy alumnus now working in the field of Aerospace Engineering.

In an interview with The Mercury, Savioe shared how he grew up in Saint Albans Town and attended Saint Albans Town Educational Center for middle school and BFA for high school. 

“I grew up skiing in the winter and biking in the summer all around Vermont,” Savoie said.

According to Savoie, he was the first leader in BFA’s Robotics Club, and while attending Clarkson University, where he majored in Aerospace Engineering, he was president of the Human Powered Vehicle Design Team.

“After graduating college, I moved out to the Seattle area to continue pursuing my outdoor hobbies but also work on something I’m passionate about,” Savoie said.

The following is an interview with Alexander Savoie:

Why did you become an Aerospace Engineer?

Savoie: In my opinion, the most exciting application of math and science is in aerospace. Making a direct contribution to something that has an impact on a large number of people gets me out of bed in the morning. Whether that impact is helping to design the next Boeing passenger or cargo jet or working on parts that will fly in the upcoming NASA SLS launch. Having a part in something that is truly larger than life is extremely motivating.

Who do you work for? What does your job entail?

Savoie: I work for Boeing Civil Aircraft. BCA for short deals with the design of all new Boeing passenger and cargo jets. My specific role is 777X Structural Analysis Engineer with the cargo floors team. Currently, we are working on designing the new Boeing 777-8F. This new aircraft is a derivative cargo aircraft of the 777 made to replace older cargo aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400F. I work to ensure the cargo floor of this new jet can handle the flight and cargo loads over its operational lifetime. 

What is your favorite part of being an Aerospace engineer?

Savoie: My favorite part of being an aerospace engineer is having the opportunity to work on projects that I find personally interesting. In my career so far, I’ve had the opportunity to have a small impact on projects such as the new 777-8F cargo jet, NASA Space Launch System, F-15 and a handful of others. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Savoie: The most challenging part of my job is learning about all the supporting details that come with designing aircraft. Although I have a general understanding, everything I do has a massive amount of small supporting details that need to be learned and understood to do the job correctly. From understanding fastener connection patterns and load paths to how to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. I am learning something new every day, and although challenging, it’s also what makes the job interesting. 

What is your day-to-day work?

Savoie: My day will often start with a meeting to discuss what analysis and or tasks my team needs to complete and what time deadlines need to be met. Following the meeting, [a] completed analysis of components such as a floor beam, connection joint, etc.. will be forwarded to the design team with feedback on how to optimize the part to meet the required load. My team will then separately work on either verifying completed analysis data or work on creating what we call new ‘templates.’  We code these ‘templates’ in a software that is designed for structural analysis. These templates will take into account parameters such as the material used, material thickness, fastener type, etc. In addition to any assumptions, we make for analysis. Established methods for analysis are used in the template to then output a margin of safety. This margin of safety basically says whether the part or structure is able to sustain the required load. If the requirement is not met, the part is redesigned or modified to meet the requirements. My day-to-day consists of working with other engineering teams, data analysis, some coding and a lot of learning. 

What would you say to a student interested in your field?

Savoie: If you are interested in engineering in general, get involved in the Robotics Club, an engineering class or [an] advanced physics class. Anything that will help you to think conceptually about a concept or how to come up with a solution to a mechanical problem is invaluable. Even tinkering with a car or just taking something apart and learning how it works will help to develop your skills. These hands-on skills are what will set you apart from other engineering students. In high school, I was part of the robotics club led by Mr.Symula and Mr. Walker. The design and building of the robot every year gave me the necessary foundation on how to think like an engineer.

Savoie went on to add:  I also want to thank a few teachers at BFA who had a part in where I am today. Mr. Symula and Mr. Walker in the engineering/tech department were instrumental in introducing me to engineering and guiding me to what I wanted to do as a career. They were both great mentors and had a large impact on me. I owe them a lot.  In addition, all the great teachers at BFA went the extra mile to help me learn regardless of [the] subject.