At Work and When Skydiving, Engineer Says #QualityIsCool

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Quality is never more important than when you’re jumping from an airplane at 13,500 feet.

“In skydiving, everything we use has to work perfectly every time,” said Jeff Harrigan, a shop quality engineer. He brings that same recognition of the importance of quality to his work at Pratt & Whitney.

Harrigan, 28, has completed more than 2,000 skydives since 2010. He began jumping as a student at the University of Connecticut, which has the biggest civilian, collegiate skydiving club in the country.

Now, he’s part of an acrobatic wingsuit team called Flatspin.

The team won the gold medal at the U.S. Parachute Association National Championships of Wingsuit Flying for the second straight year. Last year they went on to win gold at the World Cup before earning a silver medal this year, with another U.S. team winning gold and a Russian team winning bronze out of seven teams total.

It was Harrigan’s passion for skydiving that sparked his interest to work in aerospace.

After graduating in 2011, he applied for jobs but his English degree didn’t open any doors. He returned to the University of Connecticut for a degree in mechanical engineering and joined Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford in June in the Quality Engineering Development rotational program, beginning in the Hot Section Module Center North.

“Skydiving training is thorough,” Harrigan said. “There’s no way to skip steps. There’s a mindset of doing everything right – and doing it right the first time. I think that mindset carries over to Quality at Pratt & Whitney. Becoming an experienced skydiver has given me confidence in my ability to know what’s right and to speak up when something is wrong.”

When Harrigan and his skydiving team train, they usually jump from a De Havilland Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6 engines. Sometimes they fly in a Cessna Grand Caravan, also powered by a PT6 engine. The Flatspin team has done 75 to 100 training jumps this year. They do as many as seven or eight training jumps in a day.

“Every time I get into the plane, I’m glad it has Pratt & Whitney engines,” he said. “Many of the engines we use in skydiving are PT6s. We see them all over the place.”

Harrigan said that #QualityIsCool applies to his hobby as well as his work in the Module Center. “I think skydiving is cool,” he said, “and it’s pretty cool to contribute to the quality of the best aircraft engines in the world.”