• Baylor engineering grads show they have ‘The Right Stuff’

    Major David Aparicio

    Four Baylor engineering and computer science graduates have done what few others can do. Air Force Majors Dustin Masten (BSE ’01), David Aparicio (BSECE ’03), David Slack (BSME ’03) and Nathan Yerrick (BSECE ’03) have all graduated from the United States Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base.

    For those unfamiliar with the program, TPS is incredibly competitive, choosing from thousands of pilots but regularly graduating classes of fewer than 25 students. Past commandants include Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin. For many who enter TPS, service as an astronaut is the ultimate objective  — be they pilots, engineers, weapons systems or remotely piloted vehicle officers. For others, having the in-depth flight test experience helps them to tackle complex issues facing our nation’s Air Force. Regardless of specialty, all are afforded the opportunity to fly more than 25 different types of aircraft, from helicopters and jets to seaplanes and even the Goodyear blimp.

    The four Bears listed above successfully completed both Baylor’s Engineering and Computer Science program and Baylor’s Air Force ROTC program. They took different paths leading to TPS, ranging from fighter pilot, to structural engineer, to cyber security. Yet through a highly selective application process where less than 10% are chosen, they earned a place in a rigorous academic and test engineering environment.

    Yerrick, who worked with the Department of Homeland Security during TPS to better detect small, low-flying aircraft attempting to penetrate our borders, has also recently served as test conductor for the new F-35 jet fighter. “My engineering education at Baylor was the most rigorous education I have received to date. It taught me the fundamentals I needed to succeed in the future, and more importantly, it taught me how to learn,” he says.

    “Baylor prepared me very well,” echoes Aparicio (pictured), who will be staying on at Edwards to engineer and test remotely piloted aircraft. “They taught me how to problem-solve in a highly competitive environment.”

    Sic ’em, Baylor engineers!