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Roger Slykhouse, BSAE 1981

Roger Slykhouse, BSAE 1981

Roger Slykhouse

When I started at UM, I knew I wanted to study Computer Engineering, and had decided not to study Nuclear Engineering. I had a work-study allocation, and ended up working in the hypersonic tunnel with Prof. (Pauline) Sherman in Aero and her husband Prof. (Noah) Sherman in Physics to process the data. (The idea of a wind tunnel powered by a big balloon blowing on one end and nine railroad tank cars sicking on the other end just seemed like too much to miss.). I also took the Aero150 course, which included a segment on Aero conducted by Prof. Buning. These two experiences together piqued my interest in the Department enough that I decided to do a double.

One of my best memories resulted from my seeming inability to “get” the Navier-Stokes equation early on. Three of my friends, Dave, Tom, and Mags took me into a room in West Engin one evening and pounded it into my head. I finally understood it! I was still never great at it, but I understood it enough to successfully pass all of my classes that used it.

I got into the NASA co-op program and ended up at Ames in Silicon Valley. I worked in the Simulation Sciences Division, which included building and testing some of the electronics for the simulator used for Shuttle landing simulations, as well as a highly-reliable flight control system proof-of-concept. Working for NASA was my dream job, and it offered some great opportunities. In the end, the civil service pay scale was too low for the area, and I moved to Texas to work on software for one of the early automotive electrical test systems – when they first started putting that little OBD connector under the dash. That returned me to Michigan, of course, and after leaving Southwest Research, I ended up at GM. Most of my work was computer- and IT-related, but my Aero education has helped me at work and play the whole time. People at work would ask me how I ended up at GM with an Aero degree, and they jokingly called me the rocket scientist of the IT group (I’m sure you’ve heard all those jokes already).

Two years ago I decided I’d had enough of Corporate America (though I had many great experiences and moved around a lot). I’ve been working on my own projects since then. I’ve been involved with the i3 Detroit hackerspace in Ferndale, and visit AHA in Ann Arbor. It’s fun and challenging. I enjoy the chance to learn and apply new technology like low-power wireless (e.g., Internet of Things), and laser cutters and CNC machining centers are fun to play with too. I’m glad to see the Aero Department doing so well, and seeing my high school calc teacher become the Department Chair. 🙂

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