Engineer’s Spotlight – Chris Shakal
What’s a great jet aircraft design without a jet engine? For most aerospace CAD designers, you’ve probably seen and downloaded the work of this fine GrabCAD Engineer, Chris Shakal. With 3 out of the top 5 most downloaded Jet Engine designs on GrabCAD, Chris has turned his passion for aviation into parasolids, sharing with everyone. So we decided who better than Chris for another Engineer’s Spotlight!
Chris is a sophomore at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, (once called “Harvard of the Sky” by Time) majoring in Aerospace Engineering. Like most aerospace engineers, CATIA is the tool of the trade. After taking the introductory classes into CATIA V5, he kept up his chops by modeling constantly. As he describes it, “CAD is the ultimate combination of Engineering and Art. I like to think of CAD as “virtual Lego” because you can create anything you want.” So true! Take a look at our visit to the Lego workshop (they use Siemens NX).
Son of an Engineer, Chris lived in a ‘very engineering-friendly household’, creating models of airplanes, trucks, engines whenever possible. His obsession for airplanes made his decision to go into the Aerospace industry very easy. “One thing I really enjoy doing is designing and creating things on my own as well as within a team. Going to Embry-Riddle for school, then, became the obvious choice. It combined my love of airplanes with my interest in engineering and design.”
Rendering by Igor Lins e Silva
In his off-time, modeling aircraft and engines in CATIA became his top priority. Most of the work you see by Chris has been modeled from pictures alone – it can be very difficult to find accurate blueprints of most jet engines. “Almost all of my models are my own designs, but a few were modeled as close as possible to existing designs”, he says. Whilst hunting for more images of a particular jet engine, Chris discovered GrabCAD. “I poked around the rest of the site, and I couldn’t believe something this awesome existed. I was really excited about it and began uploading some of my models.”
Having a source of models and renderings like GrabCAD, as well as a pool of experienced Engineers and Designers for advice was so key to Chris. And of course, it goes both ways. Chris posted a number of tutorials, including an excellent one on wide-chord fans. This semester, he was accepted to a job as teacher’s assistant for the introductory drafting and CAD class at Embry-Riddle. “After helping fellow students and GrabCADrs with their CATIA, I felt that helping to teach future engineers CATIA was the next logical step.”
At the moment, Chris is going two directions. First is improving his rendering skills. “I’ve noticed especially on GrabCAD that a good rendering can really make a model stand out…. CATIA’s rendered is limited, and rendering is something I’d really like to get down.”. The other mission is to find a summer internship, applying to at least 50 different places, like Boeing, Rolls-Royce, GE and Gulfstream. “It would be really awesome if I got to do CAD, but any type of work experience in the aerospace industry would help for my future career.”
Well, hope this helps spread the word – best of luck to you, Mr. Shakal!