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Sam Klooster: New Breed of Engineer

Young Aerospace Engineers Arriving at the interview is a six-foot-seven-inch tall blond man in a pinstripe suit. He is not necessarily the poster boy for engineering. Immediately questions arise. First, why does society believe scientists, technicians and engineers are nerdy? Have aerospace professionals always looked as chic as Sam Klooster? Conversation with Sam, a mechanical engineer turned MBA manager, is easy and within a half hour he dispels the entire stereotype.

Sam has a bachelor degree in general engineering and received a master’s in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech. He was on the way to becoming the quiet engineer which is just what society had expected, until Lockheed Martin swooped in and inspired him to pursue another path in life.

Klooster develops dynamic aircraft simulations and flight control design for Lockheed Martin. Working with state of the art equipment and programs, challenging problems that no one has ever solved and testing the laws of physics on such questions as “invisible airplanes” is all in a day’s work. His life seems to get more interesting by the second.

Within four years of his arrival, Klooster took a master’s in business at UCLA on Lockheed’s dime. Upon his return, he joined a leadership program called EDGE, for executive development and growth enhancement. The program taught everything from corporate strategy and public speaking to operations in Washington D.C. His pinstripe suit came in handy, as did communication skills, program management, having an open mind and the ability to interact with customers.

Urbandictionary.com defines engineers as “someone who relates to the universe in a mathematical but socially inept way,” but there is nothing socially inept about Sam and the many other engineers in the EDGE program. Klooster’s path is taking him toward becoming a Capture Manager for Lockheed Martin. Capture Managers essentially own their own business because they oversee all aspects of a certain market. This mix between engineering and business is what industries want in their employees. This new breed of engineers is the future.

As the former college basketball star walks out of the office much has been revealed. He, like many others, is changing the societal perception of engineers.

By Kristin Trumble