Setting a Path for Success

With minors in Human Factors, Aviation Safety and Space Studies, alumnus Don Morgan created a unique path for his future career.

Aerospace Studies Alumnus Don Morgan ('05) standing on an airfield wearing army fatigues.

Alumnus Don Morgan (’05) shares how his aerospace studies, which is now Interdisciplinary Studies, at Embry-Riddle have helped to shape his career. With minors in Human Factors, Aviation Safety and Space Studies, Morgan created a unique path for his future career.

Currently working at Lockheed Martin Space in Boulder, Colorado, as a system safety and human factors engineer, Morgan ensures that hazard controls and human factors engineering principles are effectively incorporated into the design and operation of various spacecraft and ground system architectures.

He has also worked as a Launch Approval Engineer for the Mars 2020 mission at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a Flight Safety Analyst for Virgin Galactic. Morgan is an Army Reserve Officer and served for 9 years as a UH-60 and C-12 pilot before transitioning to his current role as a Space Operations Officer (FA40). Morgan shares insight into his Embry-Riddle experience.

How has being an Embry-Riddle graduate impacted you since graduation?

I consider Embry-Riddle to have been a very unique and challenging academic experience. It is always interesting to encounter fellow alumni in the industry and share stories from our time there.

What was your favorite Embry-Riddle experience?

My favorite experience at Embry-Riddle was being selected to receive the 2005 Space Studies Excellence award from Dr. Lance Erickson. It was very rewarding to be recognized by the faculty for my passion for space exploration.

How did Embry-Riddle prepare you for the future?

Embry-Riddle provided a solid foundation of aerospace-centric coursework and the flexibility to tailor my degree minors towards my career interests. Today, I can honestly say that I am doing exactly what I went to college to do. 

What class influenced you the most and why?

The Space Studies minor curriculum included some of my favorite classes. These courses essentially evolved into portions of the currently offered Space Flight Operations program. 

Did you participate in any clubs during your time on campus? What did you enjoy most about it?

I was a Science and Space Technology staff reporter for the Avion student newspaper. I enjoyed covering the early days of commercial spaceflight, including the SpaceShipOne flights that won the Ansari X-Prize. Ten years later I would find myself working for Virgin Galactic on the SpaceShipTwo program in Mojave, California. 

What is your best advice for future students?

Keep pressing towards the field that you are passionate about. Always embrace your current experience as a stepping stone towards future opportunities. It may not always be obvious, but all of the skills you gain in college and early in your career will often set you up for success in ways you never imagined.