For Doug May, the best part of mentoring students in the UA Engineering Design Program is helping them solve real problems.
“I like projects coming from businesses and requiring real solutions,” said May, an expert in orbital mechanics and solid rocket motor propellants.
While an officer in the U.S. Air Force, he managed the propulsion subsystem development for the Inertial Upper Stage rocket that flew on the space shuttle and Titan launch vehicle. He also managed integration of Department of Defense payloads on the space shuttle.
After retiring from the Air Force, May worked for aerospace stalwart Orbital ATK, where he helped engineer propellant design for the space shuttle reusable solid rocket motors.
May has taught space propulsion and other courses at the Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the class Orbital Mechanics and Space Flight here at the University of Arizona.
In his seven years of mentoring engineering capstone students at the UA, he’s seen the design program mature as enrollment has grown. One thing, above all, impresses him: the students’ focus and passion for their work. Mentoring them has never lost its magic.
“The capstone design sequence integrates skills from many undergraduate courses. Every year gives me an experience with new sponsors, new design challenges and new student teams.”