Trust the scientific method


The scientific method works in almost all situations says 2016 AE Distinguished Alumni Award winner Laura Bogusch.

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Laura Bogusch
Laura Bogusch
Laura Bogusch
Laura Bogusch, BS 95, MS 97 (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), joined The Boeing Company after completing her master of science degree in Aerospace Engineering at Illinois in January 1997. Bogusch's first assignment was in Commercial Manufacturing Research and Development, to develop automated processes for fabricating composite structures. She then joined New Airplane Product Development, working on the conceptual design and development plan for what ultimately became the 787.

From June 2001 to June 2003, Bogusch attended the Leaders for Manufacturing program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her experience included a six-month internship at United Airlines. After completing the LFM program, Bogusch returned to lead the 787 composite fuselage development. She was responsible for managing the design, tooling, fabrication, and evaluation of the first two composite fuselage demonstration articles manufactured at the Developmental Center in Seattle. Bogusch then supported 787 fuselage partner production start up in South Carolina, Kansas, Japan, Korea, and Italy, developing a network of cross company collaboration that continues today.

Bogusch also led the development of the design and manufacturing processes for One Piece Frames for the 787-9 derivative program. After the acquisition of Vought in Charleston, South Carolina, Bogusch led Composites Fabrication for the 787 Aft Body, responsible for the daily execution of the manufacturing processes she helped develop years before.

In 2011, Bogusch joined the 737 program as Deputy Chief Project Engineer for the P8 and Production Engineering Chief for 737. In that role, she established a team that led identification, development, and implementation of Advanced Manufacturing and Automation opportunities on the 737. In 2013, Bogusch became the 747 Fleet Chief, responsible for driving resolutions for in service issues for customers who operate the “Queen of the Skies.”

In October of 2014 Bogusch joined the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Manufacturing and Safety leadership team as the Director of Architecture, Capabilities, and Systems. In this role, she leads the Automation Strategy, Implementation of Auto Identification technologies, and future operations business system strategy.

In addition to her passions for airplanes, composite structures, operations, and The Boeing Company, Bogusch enjoys photography, traveling, and having adventures with her friends and family.

Q: Of the achievements throughout your career, please elaborate on the ones that have given you the most satisfaction and why?

BOGUSCH: The development of the first commercial airplane composite fuselage on the 787 was definitely one of the most satisfying achievements of my career. I spent the first 15 years of my career working to ensure its success: from research and development of automated fabrication processes, to building and testing nine full scale articles, to working with suppliers around the world during production start-up, to owning it myself in production. I literally was able to see something from a blank sheet of paper to surging with pride as I sat on a flight from Tokyo to Seattle sitting in an airplane I literally helped to make myself!

Q: What have been the most useful lessons you have taken from your time as an AE student, and who helped you to learn them?

BOGUSCH: Two things immediately come to mind. First, and maybe most obviously, the knowledge I gained specifically about composite materials – everything from structural analysis, to mechanics of materials, to testing methods, to manufacturing methods – was invaluable in allowing me to contribute to The Boeing Company in a significant way early in my career. Being a part of (Prof.) Scott White’s research group reinforced the importance of connecting all those various technical aspects together in order to successfully lead something from a clean sheet of paper into reality.

Another lesson came from (Emeritus Prof.) Rod Burton. One day we showed up to our laboratory class and instead of being in the wind tunnel, and instrumenting airfoils, he handed each lab group a half pint of milk and told us we had 45 minutes to return back to him a written memo reporting how many stairs he could climb after drinking that milk. Of course at the time, we all hemmed and hawed, and complained, ‘This has nothing to do with aeronautical engineering!’ In retrospect, however, I often look back at that as one of the first times I knew what it feels like to be an engineer – to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘Okay, I know that F=ma – what’s next?’

Q: What have been the most useful lessons you have learned during your career?

BOGUSCH: The most important thing that I have learned is that what I know is only as valuable as my ability to communicate that knowledge or understanding to others who can in turn use it to do their own jobs more effectively. And, that the scientific method works in almost all situations: What is your hypothesis? What data or information do you need to confirm or deny your hypothesis? Do some math. What can you conclude?

Q: Who have been your inspirations, particularly in AE?

BOGUSCH: My mother has been a strong inspiration for me as a professional. She had a 40+ year career as a pharmacist that started at a time when very few women were in the profession. Her strength, independence, and belief in herself continue to be an inspiration for me as I continue my own career.

Q: What advice can you offer current students?

BOGUSCH: My sister gave me the best advice I got while I was in college: “If you don’t like your calculus professor, just go get a different on; there are tons.” That lesson also translates well in the working world. There are many different jobs you can have/do; keep searching for one that ‘fits’ for you! The second best advice I ever got was from (Emeritus Prof.) Larry Bergman. He told me to go and join Scott White’s research team. Clearly that had a significant impact on my career, but also, I can say that I was one of the poor students who had to suffer through the pre-tenure, pre-self-healing days. So get out there, take control of your own path, but remain open to the unexpected opportunities!

Q: Do you have any comments on or predictions for the future of your industry?

BOGUSCH: I am looking forward to watching what happens with unmanned flight as well as commercial space.

Q: Are there any other comments that you would like to make or insights you would care to share?

BOGUSCH: It is humbling for me to receive this (AE Distinguished) Alumni Award – especially whenever I have the opportunity to interact with the students of today. The future of aerospace is in great hands!

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This story was published May 2, 2016.