graduated from San Diego State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, he spent the first 15 months of his career in Phoenix working for Boeing on the Apache Attack Helicopter.
Earlier this year, he relocated to Alabama to work for Boeing’s Huntsville Design Center, where he is currently a structural design engineer. Previously, he provided support to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, a crewed capsule designed to taxi astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Currently, Caplan is supporting the Exploration Upper Stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), which is NASA’s next-generation heavy lift rocket. He said SLS will take heavy payloads and humans to distant destinations such as Mars.1. Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?
My proudest achievements include interning with NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, creating my own opportunities to network with Boeing leaders at the company’s international headquarters in Chicago, and contributing to the development of the Space Launch System. I remember watching a test fire of the solid rocket booster for SLS when I lived in Phoenix and thinking about how cool it would be to work on it. I had no idea that just months later, I would get the chance.2. If you were to give current SDSU students some professional advice, what would you say?
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The best opportunities push you slightly to moderately beyond your comfort level, and that’s a good thing because it forces you to grow. Always challenge yourself and develop a mindset of continual growth and progression, and you’ll be amazed at what is possible.3. How do you stay connected to SDSU?
I mentor engineering students through the Aztec Mentor Program
. The guidance and support I received though AMP as a student was incredibly helpful in navigating my transition from school to the workplace, and I am extremely happy to be able to pay it forward.4. Why did you choose SDSU?
At the time I applied, I knew nothing about SDSU or San Diego in general. I originally intended to stay in Nevada for college, but while applying to a different CSU, I saw SDSU on the list of schools on the online application portal. I just knew San Diego was a big city and that excited me, so I decided to apply. When I toured SDSU’s campus after being accepted, I fell in love with the campus and San Diego just felt right to me.5. What’s your favorite college memory?
My favorite college memory is graduation. I loved being able to share that moment with the most important people in my life. Also, getting to know all of the amazing people I met throughout my time at SDSU is another favorite memory of mine. I feel incredibly lucky to have such an exceptional group of friends from SDSU and miss all of the good times we shared together. Within my group of closest friends, everyone brings something unique to the table, and I have always appreciated the balance of their perspectives and personalities.6. Who was your favorite professor and/or what was your favorite class?Richard Ayala
’s course in heat transfer was very interesting, and I really enjoyed Professor Ayala’s personality and sense of humor. Morteza Mehrabadi
, the dean of the College of Engineering, was always super supportive, and he is doing great things with the engineering department.7. What experiences at SDSU helped you grow professionally?
The Aztec Mentor Program
provided me with the opportunity to network with an engineering manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My mentor, Jordan Evans
, recommended me to his colleagues for a summer internship, and during the summer of 2014, I spent 10 weeks interning for JPL. That internship experience has really been the foundation of my career, and paved the way for everything that has followed since then. There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t think about the impact that my AMP mentor has had on my life and how grateful I am for his help. Participating in AMP and choosing him as a mentor continues to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.8. Who was your “SDSU family?” What clubs, organizations or teams were you a part of?
Greek life was a large part of my college experience. I attribute a lot of my growth in college to being a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and feel I would definitely not be the same person without the experiences it provided me. I also had many close friends in Kappa Delta Sorority during my time at SDSU, so I consider them a vital part of my SDSU family as well.