His Career Is Taking Flight: NJIT Senior Secures a Top Job at Boeing

Wilfredo Alvizures is a senior with a job at Boeing. (Photo by Fariha Tasneem)

Wilfredo Alvizures is a senior who already has a job secured at Boeing, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies.

Starting in August, he'll help to design some of most sophisticated aircraft on the planet. He was selected to participate in Boeing’s prestigious rotational program, where he’ll rotate through various divisions and jobs within the company. The program grooms new hires for management positions; and to be a manager at one of the world’s biggest corporations is no small feat. It is, rather, a huge accomplishment.   

What’s more impressive about Wilfredo is that he, like much of NJIT’s student body, is a first-generation college student; His parents emigrated to America from Guatemala. He studied extra hard to excel in his classes while getting involved in campus life and working during summers.

Boeing, like a lot of major companies, is taking an increased interest in NJIT students such as Wilfredo, whose rigorous education places them in high demand on the job market. Last year, for instance, Boeing hired NJIT student Kwame Boler to work as an electrical engineer. Kwame was offered the job after doing an internship there. And this summer Norman Hamilton, a junior majoring in computer science, will intern at Boeing. NJIT also has one extremely distinguished alumnus at the company: Norma J. Clayton, who graduated in 1981 with a degree in industrial engineering, is the vice president of learning, training and development at Boeing. She is a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers and in 2009 was named the Technologist of the Year by Black Engineer.com.

Wilfredo also did an internship at Boeing. He interned in the Structures division in Everett, Washington, where he did stress analysis and design on Boeing’s 777 X plane. He worked hard that summer and his industriousness paid hiim a handsome dividend: Boeing offered him a chance to help manage a company that each year helps millions to take flight. In this Q&A, Wilfredo talks about how NJIT helped his career take flight.

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How did you get the internship at Boeing?

I’m a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and a year ago group of us attended the national SHPE conference in Indianapolis. Employers were at the convention center and I talked to a manager at Boeing.  He invited me to interview the next day.  After a long interview with him, he seemed interested in me.  Two weeks later, Boeing called: I was in a transportation class but I took a break from the class to take the call. The person offered me the internship.

What did you work on during your internship?

The first day they handed me two large design manuals and asked me to design a small piece of a plane using hand calculations only.  After I showed them I understood the math, they gave me my first project. And over the course of the summer I worked on design, and stress analysis and propulsion.

Did you enjoy the work?

The best aspect was that I was given exposure to Boeing’s inside operations. They gave us interns tours of the labs, the plants, the galleries. We got to visit different locations within the state of Washington.  It was amazing. I got to meet different people from different parts of the world.  And by video we worked with engineers from all over the world.

How does civil engineering, your major, relate to the aerospace industry?

My interest in civil is in structural engineering, where we study how the framework of structures are designed to withstand the stresses and loads of their environments. An airplane is subject to similar forces, such as wind and rain, so Boeing has a good number of civil engineers.

What are you involved in at NJIT?

I’m in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). EOP was helpful to me in all aspects: Mr. Tony Howell and Mrs. Maria Oquendo gave me great advice and I received financial assistance. And SHPE has enabled me to find success in my career. I owe this organization my present and future accomplishments; it has shown me how to dress, talk and act like a leader. My first year as a member I looked at SHPE’s executive board members as role models. Today, because of SHPE, I could be considered one of those role models. SHPE is my "familia" away from home.

What about your family and background?

My parents were born in Guatemala but left for America when they were in their twenties. They came for a better future for us -- my sister and me -- and I’m thankful to them every day. My father is a truck driver – he owns his own truck – and my mom stays at home. I went to Bayonne High and was recruited by EOP to come to NJIT. 

How’d you like NJIT overall?

At first I wasn’t sure it was the school for me – I started off as an architecture major.  But after switching to civil engineering, I felt I found my place in the school.  I met many people with the same interests and outlook as me and was able to do well.  And my involvement in SHPE and EOP allowed me to have a family away from home.

Starting in August you’ll live in Seattle, far from your family in Bayonne. Will that separation be hard for you?

When I first told my mom, she was not so good about it. She doesn’t want me to leave. We are a close family. But she’s more understanding of it now and I plan to visit every holiday. My sister has a good job in Virginia and she’ll come home on holidays too and all of us will reunite.

By Robert Florida (robert.florida@njit.edu)