"It's Boeing for Crying Out Loud"

Legos first inspired Alijah McDonald’s dream of a career in engineering. From Myrtle Beach to Daytona Beach, he is turning that dream into reality and engineering his future.

Aerospace Engineering student and Boeing Scholar Recipient Alijah McDonald
Aerospace Engineering student Alijah McDonald is proud to be a Boeing Scholar recipient (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Connor McShane)

Aerospace Engineering student and South Carolina native Alijah McDonald’s passion for engineering began at an early age. 

“Since I was really little I always enjoyed building stuff,” he said. “That morphed into Lego Robotics in middle school and then further transformed into high school robotics.”  

McDonald attended Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology (AAST), a STEM high school where he was involved in a pre-engineering program that ran alongside his traditional classes.

This program helped him further develop skills through computer-aided design and engineering design projects. For his senior project, he studied orbital mechanics and even designed, manufactured and tested a homemade rocket motor. 

This was the start of a journey in engineering that led him to Embry-Riddle.  

“I ended up choosing Embry-Riddle not only because I was aware of the prestigious aerospace engineering program, but the opportunities I saw that are available to students here,” he said. “Not only are there some amazing clubs to be a part of on campus, but even things like the career fair and networking opportunities that presented themselves to students at this university were appealing to me.”  

After the start of his first semester, he took advantage of these opportunities and was offered an internship at Rolls-Royce for Controls Engineering. Additionally, he joined the rocketry club on campus, ERFSEDS.

“When I joined my freshman year, I was taken under the wing of a senior helping design a payload for one of the club’s competition teams, Project Artemis,” he said. “It was my first introduction to ‘electronics in rockets’ and ever since I’ve been kind of hooked.”

As a Boeing scholarship recipient, McDonald is proud. 

The scholarship also matches his vision for his future. While it may not yet be a complete picture, he believes that as long as he is contributing to the world in some capacity – whether it be through cutting-edge spacecraft development or defense systems used for the greater good – he’ll be fulfilled in his career.

With the help of the Boeing Scholars Program, McDonald has had the full experience at Embry-Riddle. For future Eagles, his advice is to try new things, adding that “whether that is joining a club that seems interesting or exploring your hobbies and interests, always be seeking your passion.”

“College is about more than just taking classes and getting your degree,” he said. “It’s about figuring things out about yourself and how you operate.”