It was a job-shadowing experience in high school that enabled her to see an engineer in action and “sealed the deal” careerwise.
Today, Megan Lawson is poised to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wright State University, has a full-time job waiting with a major aerospace company and is the 2021 Intern of the Year in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Lawson’s internship was at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies subsidiary and one of the world’s largest suppliers of aerospace and defense products. It is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, but has an operation in Troy, Ohio.
Lawson grew up just outside of Troy, graduating in 2017 from Miami East High School, where she enjoyed her math and physics courses. She did her job-shadowing at Collins her senior year.
Lawson first worked at Collins in the company’s warehouse as a summer job for two years. She transferred to the Wheel Assembly Manufacturing unit toward the end of her time as summer help and was able to work alongside a quality engineer.
“It was such a great experience, I knew I wanted to learn more,” she said. “I immediately jumped at the opportunity to become an intern when the position became available a few months later.”
Then Jeffrey Winkle, Lawson’s site supervisor at Collins, asked Lawson to take over responsibilities in the wheel department after a manufacturing engineer left the company for another opportunity.
“Megan stepped up to the challenge and has done a terrific job,” he said. “She had to do a lot of learning on the run while also working with a union workforce, which most young people struggle with. She has gained the respect of those folks and they depend on her for problem-solving and help with process improvements that are desperately needed.”
Winkle said management was so impressed with Lawson that they lifted a hiring freeze and is giving her a full-time job as a manufacturing engineer after she graduates May 1.
“I have worked with many young people in my 45-year career and Megan is one of top young manufacturing persons that I have had the pleasure to work with,” he said.
Lawson said she chose to work at Collins Aerospace to join a team dedicated to redefining the aerospace industry.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of something so fascinating to me,” she said. “I never miss the chance to watch a plane fly, and it’s rewarding to see the process come full circle and know I had a small role in that.”
Lawson said her internship, which enhanced her classroom learning experience, taught her ways to standardize processes in the Collins facility.
“It has also helped me solidify that I want to pursue working in manufacturing and operations roles in the future,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to build up my networking capabilities and work alongside knowledgeable and helpful coworkers.”
Lawson’s advice for student interns is to ask meaningful questions, take notes, work hard and perform the duties of the job without having to be asked.
“Above all else, approach every situation as a learning opportunity, whether the task is big or small,” she said.
Lawson said she chose to come to Wright State because it was the right size in terms of its professor-to-student ratio and it was the right amount of distance away from home.
The first day of class she met her future husband at the college’s Academic Advantage Program. The couple is scheduled to marry on June 26.
Lawson said Wright State has prepared her to be successful by providing practical courses, including an internship course in which students learned interviewing skills and were graded when they participated in a career fair and a mock interview.
After graduation, Lawson plans to continue working in manufacturing engineering and the operations field.
“In the immediate future, I would like to keep progressing as a manufacturing engineer but would also like to experience being an engineering manager or supervisor at some point,” she said. “My goal is to always standardize processes, but please the highest stakeholders in any project, which are the operators.”