From high school all-star to aerospace engineer

April 8, 2010 — by David Eng

What’s the point of high school? So often we roam the halls of the science wing pondering the significance of the anatomy of a frog in our own lives or leave the math quad wondering why we need to know how to graph a parabola. Why do we read “Of Mice and Men” in freshman year, and who cares about the causes of World War I?

In short, these necessary high school lessons serve as building blocks for later in life, perhaps stepping stones for a future career. Just ask Lynn Chouw, a 2001 graduate and current aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin.

Chouw vividly recalls visiting the College and Career Center in her sophomore year and deciding to become an aerospace engineer when she grew up.

“When I was really young I wanted to be an astronaut, but then found out that my bad eyesight would prevent me from that job, so I had to pick another,” she said. “My parents never dreamed that I would stick with my job choice that I had picked out when I was 16!”

No, it is not crucial that a student chooses a career path during their sophomore year in high school, but as Chouw explains, the experiences in high school helped to clear the road in front of her.

“I liked math classes in high school because they were logical and the type of class that I could sit down and work at until I figured it out,” said Chouw. “There was only one right answer.”

Coupling this aptitude for mathematics with her life-long fascination with space, aerospace engineering seemed like the only logical profession.

However, Chouw’s passion for math did not blind her from other opportunities that high school had to offer—a tell tale sign of a true high school all-star. In addition to taking AP Calculus BC, Chouw took several other college preparatory classes, including AP US History, AP Literature, AP Biology and AP Physics. Outside of the classroom, Chouw was a three-sport athlete (field hockey, basketball and badminton) as well as a member of the marching band for four years.

“I wasn’t particularly shy, but I don’t remember being particularly outgoing either,” said Chouw. ” I got along with most people, and I think that was the reason why I was both captain of the basketball team and drum major.”

In addition to providing students with a plethora of academic possiblities, high school is also considered a time for young adults to just relax and have a good time.

“My favorite year in high school was my senior year,” said Chouw. “I finally became comfortable with who I was, and that was the year my soon-to-be-husband and I started dating.”

After graduating from Saratoga High, Chouw attended University of California, San Diego to attain her Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering as well as a minor in photography.

While she was attending UCSD, she also started playing lacrosse and joined the team. “Now I am both a lacrosse referee and a lacrosse coach at Saratoga,” she said.

Currently, Chouw is finishing up her masters in aerospace engineering from San Jose State University while she works at Lockheed Martin.

“I love what I do, I love my job. It’s interesting and challenging, although I’m starting to realize that the more knowledge I get, the more I understand how much there is to learn,” she said. “It’s also pretty neat to look at a satellite and realize that I had a part in making it.”

Chouw’s advice for high schoolers who want to follow in her footsteps?

“Study hard in your math classes because it forms a foundation for the engineering classes you will be doing in the future,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t forget to have fun too.

2 views this week