Engineering Careers

Vidal Salazar, Field Campaign Engineer and Project Manager

EngEx Mentor Vidal Salazar once managed the majority of NCAR's field campaigns, often aboard the NCAR C130 or Gulfstream V aircraft. During these campaigns, Vidal was responsible for much of the instrumentation designed to obtain atmospheric measurements. He is now at NASA.

NCAR's Gulfstream V Aircraft

NCAR's Gulfstream V is an engineering marvel that depends on mechanical, electrical, and aerospace engineers to keep it flying seemlessly for research. Here, the jet flies over Anchorage, Alaska, a convenient location for it to stop and refuel before heading up towards the North Pole on a recent field campaign.

EngEx Mentors

EngEx Mentors Allison Barto and Juancarlos Soto, both engineers at Ball Aerospace, share their work as it pertains to spacecraft and satellite design projects.

Building a Spacecraft

Students walk through the various components necessary to build a functioning spacecraft using the human body as an analogy for what is needed: eyes, ears, brain, legs, food/energy, and clothes to protect the spacecraft as seen here, a thermal blanket shielding it from weather extremes by the student engineers.

UAVs for atmospheric research

Daniel Hesselius, professor at the University of Colorado, shares current research for studying super storms and tornadoes with unmanned aerial systems. (Video is available for viewing at right.)

EngEx Coach Interview

During spring's Engineering and Editing workshop, students interviewed project Coaches completing undergraduate to graduate degrees in engineering at the University of Colorado. Questions ranged from asking about their initial interest in engineering to their schooling, specific areas of engineering interest, and questions about those who helped them get to where they are.

S-Pol Radar on a field campaign

Doppler radar is a valuable tool for weather research and is used to analyze precipitation, air motion, and storms. The S-Pol radar is a portable Doppler radar developed at the National Center of Atmospheric Research. It was designed by various mechanical and electrical engineers for use in field campaigns like this one in the Republic of the Maldives. 

At the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), engineering is an important part of our work. Computer and software engineers, mechanical and electrical engineers, aerospace engineers, and many more professionals from engineering subfields help to achieve our mission of advancing our knowledge of the atmosphere and Earth system. Here are a few of the kinds of engineers employed at NCAR and our collaborating partners with Engineering Experiences:

  • Computer and software engineers work with supercomputers and write programming code that make computers perform important calculations and functions! One example is building models of the Earth system with code. They create a realistic world virtually that allows researchers from around the world to experiment and study the Earth and its many interacting systems without damaging the real world in which we live. Computer engineers often work with computer hardware such as our supercomputers located at the NCAR Wyoming Supercomputer Center in Cheyenne, WY shown above.
     
  • Mechanical and electrical engineers design and manufacture everything from small individual parts and devices to stand-alone instruments and their electronic systems. Often at NCAR these involve the design of instruments aboard aircraft that can measure properties of the atmosphere.  Other times, these instruments remain grounded and are used in field campaigns meant to advance our knowledge about all kinds of weather including thunderstorms, tornados, and hurricanes. Instruments designed at NCAR are often the first of their kind and fill an unmet need. 
     
  • Aerospace engineers primarily build and make improvements to flying vehicles. Aerospace engineers that build flying machines like aircraft, gliders, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)  are commonly referred to as aeronautical engineers. Those that design and develop spacecraft are commonly called astronautical engineers. There are many aerospace engineers in Boulder County! You'll find a lot of aerospace engineers at NCAR's aviation facility at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield!


Many more types of engineers exist: civil and structural engineers work with city planners to build roads, bridges, and more that help ensure strong and sustainable cities and towns where people live and work. Chemical engineers utlize chemical reactions to solve problems and create all kinds of new products from medicines to food and raw chemicals.  One popular area of chemical engineering today involves making more renewable products so that waste can be reduced. Environmental engineers focus on sensors, measurements, and systems that improve our environment be it air quality, water quality, or something entirely different that needs attention.

It's an exciting time to be an engineer!