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Engineering grad finds rewarding work in aerospace and defense field

Brandon Hall, Class of 2004, Mechanical Engineering

Brandon Hall’s big break came in the form of four legs.

As a Mechanical Engineering student at York College of Pennsylvania in the early 2000s, Brandon was selected to work on the Boston Dynamics BigDog Project, which led to creating a 4-legged robot — the first advanced rough-terrain robot of its kind.

The two-and-a-half-year research project was to create a robot that could carry the heavy loads for military personnel on the ground on overseas missions.

While the robot never really got off the ground beyond the prototype stage, he says, being part of the team helped launch his climb up the company ladder at Textron Systems, an engineering firm that specializes in armored combat vehicles and unmanned aircraft like drones.

Today, he leads the hardware engineering group for Textron’s tactical missions systems.

“The BigDog was a big break for me,” he says. “It spurred me into leadership.”

Making the difference

While a student at York College, Brandon took his third engineering cooperative work experience program (co-op) with Textron and never stopped working there.

Instantly, Brandon felt a connection. At the time, Textron was small — it has since grown to a billion-dollar company — and he saw a lot of opportunity.

“It provided good technical challenges for myself,” says Brandon, a Stewartstown resident and father of three.

His education at York College greatly influenced his successful engineering career, he says, stressing that the college’s blend of hands-on lab work with theory really makes the difference in what the industry expects and needs.

Brandon also serves on the executive committee of York College’s Industry Advisory Council — providing insight and wisdom into what the college includes in its engineering programs that the industry needs students to have.

Taking advantage

The York College co-op experience is the aspect that Brandon advises engineering students to take full advantage of while in college.

“If your first co-op isn’t your cup of tea, keep going until you know what you want to do,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to do that while you are in college than it is once you are out and graduated and married with kids.”

The co-ops are a part of the engineering degree and are required once in each their sophomore, junior and senior years.

Rewarding work

For Brandon, that “cup of tea” was at Textron and working to make the United States military life more competitive and safe.

“I feel bad for people who don’t go to work loving what they do,” he says. “I’m not in that boat.”

Working in an industry that helps to make military life easier is more than just an engineering job, he says.

“It’s rewarding to know the long hours that I put in is important.”