News  |  Nov 16, 2021  |  Christine Furey

Employee Spotlight: Chanel O’Brien, ACE, Airfield Electrical Designer

1. How did you come to do what you do?
Before Arora, I was working as CAD Technician drafting telecommunication distribution and Arora’s recruiting team contacted me to interview for a drafting position with the Special Systems department. During the interview process, I had expressed an interest in aeronautics since my education is in mechanical engineering. The airfield electrical department was looking for more staff and I ended up there instead. Luckily, I got to work on aspects of projects that would typically fall to the designers. I learned a lot quickly and now work in that position.

2. Was this a lifelong goal?

I don’t think I would have ever imagined doing electrical design work, but I have always wanted to be in the aviation industry. It’s exciting to be here so early in my career.

3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Seeing a design come to life in the field. So much of our time is spent on computers that it is truly exciting to see the construction side. It reaffirms the purpose of what we do.

4. What motivates you every day?
My health hasn’t always allowed me to actively chase a career or just to participate in everyday activities. If I am able to physically get up every day, I am going to take advantage of whatever opportunity is in front of me that brings me fulfillment.

5. What makes you unique and different?
Everyone is obviously unique and brings a different life experiences and perspectives to their job. What sets me apart is the constant acknowledgment that everyone has something to contribute and to be open to whatever that may be. We as engineers are problem solvers, but if we close ourselves off to other people no matter their background or rolls, then we will fail to identify all the variables and possible solutions to what we are tasked with solving.

6. What are your favorite types of projects to work on?
My favorite types of projects so far are clearly airfield projects, but specifically ones that expose me to a new aspect of the industry. Right now, that is almost every project. Nothing cements my theoretical knowledge like a real-life application.

7. What are your future career goals?
I can’t imagine the aviation industry not moving to reduce its environmental impact as we see the effects of climate change worsen. Once I receive my PE license, I hope I can push for more projects that keeps our field at the forefront of transportation without harming the world it connects.

8. What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
I have learned that you should never get comfortable with your knowledge base in any given field, but especially in an ever changing one like engineering. The world around us is always changing so we should expect to always learn, grow, and innovate.

9. What do you like most about working at Arora?
Oh, there’s plenty of things I like about working at Arora! More than anything, I appreciate the mentorship that leadership and senior members of the airfield department has given me since I started working here. There is a real emphasis on teaching the design process while applying engineering principles in a methodical way so that everyone on our team is equipped to take on more aspects of any given project, instead of relying on everyone’s strong suits and hoping they figure out the rest on their own. I’m personally interested in becoming a well-rounded engineer and that won’t be possible without the wisdom of those more experienced than me.

10. What has been your favorite memory while working at Arora?
Most of my time at Arora has been working remotely thanks to the pandemic, but within the first few months here, I was invited to join a group of women at the company at a celebration for Women in Transportation in Philadelphia. It was wonderful to be in a room with full of what usually feels like a small group in our industry.

11. Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?
Outside of work, school, and sleep, I try to spend as much time as possible outside walking, hiking, or running with my personal trainer/ Labrador mix. It’s a daily break from my normally stressful day and a source of regularity in this ever-changing world we are living in.

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