How did WSU graduate Michael Arruda get his start in aerospace engineering? “What I honestly tell people is that a video game got me started in airplanes."
Photo: Courtesy
Cooperative experience proves priceless for WSU grad
Nov 11, 2011 3:00 PM | Print

Fourteen years ago when Michael Arruda was in middle school, he played a video game called Jane's Advanced Tactical Fighter.

Jane's is a respected guide and resource for aviation and defense gurus.

From then on, Arruda was hooked on avionics.

"What I honestly tell people is that a video game got me started in airplanes," he said.

As a student at Wichita State University, Arruda took his love of airplanes and transformed it into his education, earning a master's in aerospace engineering in 2009.

While at WSU, Arruda took advantage of the opportunity to get on-the-job experience through the Cooperative Education and Work Based Learning program.

Wichita State's cooperative education program offers temporary job placement through the curriculum for current degree-bound students.

Through co-op experience, Arruda earned an internship at Hawker Beechcraft.

"I started in the Model 4000 Environmental Control Systems group," he said. "It gave me a ride on an airplane for a test flight, the ability to write FAA compliance reports, and it got my feet wet in the certification world."

Co-op was key to his success

Cooperative education was a key player in gaining Arruda's footing and experience among the working class.

"It gave me a better starting position," he said. "I received Engineer II, instead of Engineer I in my first job out of college."

After more than two years with cooperative education, Arruda is now doing what he had set out to do.

"I get to fashion new aircraft projects and use the equations I learned in my engineering classes," he said. "I also work and network with a very large group of aerospace professionals, thanks to my co-op experience."

Arruda studied six years at Wichita State. As an added bonus while on campus, he met his wife, Emily, who also graduated with an aerospace engineering degree.

Maybe Arruda's next performance manual won't be for another video game, but instead for parenting. These two engineers are expecting their first child in early 2012.

For more information on Wichita State University's Office of Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning, call (316) 978-3688 or visit

Created on Nov 11, 2011 3:00 PM; Last modified on Nov 18, 2011 10:52 AM
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