Employee Spotlight: Meet Quality Assurance Engineer, Tucker W.

August 06, 2020

The experience was so nice, he joined the team twice! Tucker W. worked for Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) from 2007 to 2013 before a move took him to California. When he had a chance to get back to Colorado, the quality assurance engineer knew he wanted to rejoin the team.

In this Employee Spotlight, Tucker tells us how he managed the transportation of the primary structure for the Dream Chaser® spaceplane from Texas to Colorado and what his role is now that the vehicle is being outfitted.

What drew you to work at SNC?
I started my career with SNC at another business area in 2007 where I worked until 2013, so I was very familiar with the company. After several years working for an aerospace company in California, my wife had an opportunity to bring us back to Colorado. With my previous experience at SNC, I knew it was a great company and really wanted to rejoin the team. Having worked around composite aircraft and knowing about the Dream Chaser it was really the perfect opportunity.

You’re a quality assurance engineer- what does that position entail, specifically on the Dream Chaser team?
I spend a lot of my day working with suppliers to ensure that components for the vehicle are built correctly and meet requirements. That means reviewing a lot of paperwork, ensuring any items that don’t meet those requirements are properly documented and working with the right team to get it corrected. In addition to that, and the best part of the job, I get to work around the vehicle.

I heard you helped manage the transportation of the primary structure from Lockheed Martin in Texas to SNC’s production floor in Louisville, Colorado- what kind of steps did you have to take to get it safely from point A to point B?
My time was spent at Lockheed Martin performing visual inspections, reviewing the paperwork prior to delivery and working closely with the design engineers to ensure it was properly protected for the road trip.

Once the primary structure made its way to Colorado, we performed several inspections, prior to removing it from the truck and once all the shipping protection was removed, to ensure there was no damage or suspect damage. When it was in place on the production floor, I also worked with a contractor who came onsite to perform inspections.

Now that the primary structure is here, what is your role in its build?
My primary role is to support the build on the structures side, from cutouts to structural component installs, ensuring the requirements are met. I review and approve drawings, process plans and non-conformances to ensure items flow to the production floor and have the proper inspection points. If issues arise I work with the material review board team to get them corrected.

Why is space exploration so important to you?
For me, I really just enjoy space exploration. I like that there’s no end to it; I think in the next several years we are going to see some really cool things happen. And who knows, maybe someday it will be practical for me to go to space!

If you were able to travel to space, which one person, dead or alive, would you take as your travel companion?
I would take my paternal grandfather. He had a lot to do with my interest in this industry and always enjoyed flying and talking airplanes. I was taking flying lessons about 15 years ago and I would call him right after I landed just to talk airplanes and flying. I even got to fly with him, which is something I will never forget! Although going to space is much different than general aviation, we would enjoy the adventure together.


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