Meet: Rick Bell
Senior Specialist Engineer, Boeing
Who I Am
I am a wind tunnel test engineer. I also have a lot experience in aerodynamics
design and propulsion integration. I am here helping with the High-Speed
Research Program test of the High Speed Civil Transport. I am doing data
analysis and data reduction for the research side. I am also here for
consultation on test engineering techniques and processes, and the assembling
of the model. I have set up all of the Boeing computers - this includes
the necessary networking in order to make my computers communicate with
both the NASA systems and Boeing Seattle systems. I will be doing analysis
on the data making sure it is reasonable and correct. I will also be comparing
the current data to previous test data.
My Career Path
Originally I had planned on going to the United States Naval Academy to
become an F-14 fighter pilot. Eventually, I planned on going to astronaut
training. I took all the Advanced Placement classes in high school. I
was in the Naval Sea Cadets Corps since age 14 with the Naval career path
in mind. I hoped to become a Naval Officer. I was stationed at several
Naval Bases including San Jose Twining Division Naval Station , Moffett
Naval Field, and the Alameda Naval Air Station. I got to go on many navy
cruises all over the Pacific Ocean aboard Aircraft Carriers, Fast Frigates,
and Nuclear Destroyers, to name just a few. I was accepted at the Naval
Academy but that didn't work out. So, I came back home to get a degree
in engineering at San Jose State University. I received my Bachelors of
Science in Aeronautics. During my college years, I became a pilot and
also received my Airframe & Powerplant license (A&P) so that I could fix
airplanes as well as fly them. I became very interested in changing my
career direction by becoming a commercial pilot but then that quickly
diminished once I realized that at that time, pilots were a dime a dozen.
So, I stuck to the engineering side of the aircraft house.
During the last two years of college, I worked at
Lockheed Missiles and Space Company as a summer hire on various programs
including the A3TK Polaris Missile Program. My responsibilities there
included a lot of logistical engineering. Once I graduated from SJSU,
I took a position at the Lockheed Southern California Skunk Works as a
propulsion engineer. I was very excited to work at the company that built
the world’s fastest airplane, the SR-71. It was real cool to work with
famous engineers like Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich. Most of my work there
in flight sciences involved propulsion integration (parametric analysis)
and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Much of my work was highly secure
requiring a Top Secret clearance in many cases. My family life suffered
from the times I had to be away from home. I was in several cool projects.
One program involved flying back seat of a T-38. In that project, I was
the only engineer working with a bunch of scientists where I was responsible
for putting their scientific theory into practical application. Happily,
I was successful in proving this theory. Another experiment involved me
flying in the tail cone of a KC-135. Sometimes the job was exciting, but
other times, it was real boring (especially sitting at a computer terminal
all day long).
I was a customer for some propulsion wind tunnel
tests at the Rye Canyon Kelley Johnson Research and Development Center.
We were testing internal ducts, nozzles, inlets and subsonic diffusers.
I enjoyed the wind tunnel test work. I was offered a job there and I really
enjoyed working there. I was involved on the F-22 research program and
I eventually worked with a lot of Boeing people (since Lockheed and Boeing
were partners in the F-22 program). I was offered at position with the
Boeing Aerodynamics Laboratory in Seattle and I have worked there now
for over nine years.
As a Child
I built a lot of airplane models. I joined the science club and the chess
club and I participated in many sports such as soccer, karate, track and
I would advise kids to be aware of choosing a career in the very cyclical
aerospace industry. If you take a job in aeronautical engineering it must
be because you love the work and not for the money.
I was motivated by some of the sea cadet leaders who inspired me so much
to continue. My calculus teacher in Irvington High School in Fremont forced
me to think before responding too quickly to a question. My Judo sensei,
at San Jose State University was a role model. Although he was small in
size he could beat much larger people. He taught me that to achieve my
potential I could rely on my inner strengths and not be limited by outside
I would like to get to the point where I can achieve a more comfortable
lifestyle although this might require exploring other opportunities.
In my spare time I enjoy playing inline hockey, soccer, and golf. I also
enjoy playing pool bowling, football, and ping-pong. I have four children;
the oldest has graduated and is ready to start college. I used to be involved
in scouting and woodworking. I helped with my sons pinewood derby cars.
I also have done many remodeling projects in my house.