Every Knock is an Opportunity to Learn: Following Dave McDermott

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When it comes to knowledge, Dave McDermott, fellow, Engineering Product Integrity, has an insatiable appetite. Both his academic and professional careers can attest to that.

McDermott, with fingers interlaced, looks nostalgically at the mementos hanging on his office wall as he recalls his 26 years spent with Pratt & Whitney and his quest for growth during those years.

"I remember starting my job in Reliability Engineering at our West Palm Beach facility like it was yesterday," McDermott said. "I was excited to be working in a field that provided a whole engine perspective, and I enjoyed the analytical problem solving aspect of the job."

It was McDermott's affinity for safety and reliability that landed him his current job title, but not before gaining experience in other jobs within the company. All those experiences helped him to develop the skill set, which led to his current role in Engineering Product Integrity.

Product Integrity is no niche subset of Engineering as it ensures proper engine function. It is a cornerstone in engine safety and therefore touches upon every aspect of Pratt & Whitney Engineering. To be deemed a subject matter expert in the field is a significant accomplishment.

McDermott was impressed with the fellows he had encountered while serving in his prior roles. There are many instances during which the fellows were looked to for guidance on important technical decision making.

"In the toughest situations, the fellows would provide technical clarity. That clarity was like a rock that provided a foundation to developing our solutions to very complex issues," McDermott recalled. "I admired them greatly."

McDermott's interest in safety and reliability remained unwavering throughout his Pratt & Whitney career. "Our history has shown that programs can only be successful when high levels of safety and reliability are achieved," McDermott noted.

"Usually when there's a knock on my door, I can assume that there's an engineer with a difficult problem behind it," McDermott said with a laugh. "It's exciting to help find solutions to such problems and see the positive impacts to our customers and business from those decisions."

The new fellow seeks to inspire engineers, by mentoring them and acting as a resource for questions; much like earlier fellows did for him.

McDermott earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University in 1989, a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts in 2011.

In his time outside of the office, McDermott finds himself knocking on other kinds of doors – the gates of baseball stadiums across the country. He and his sons are working toward an impressive goal of seeing every major league team play at its home stadium. With only four stadiums remaining, McDermott hesitates a bit when asked which ballpark is his favorite. "Fenway and Wrigley are sentimental favorites but the views of Pittsburgh from PNC Park and atmosphere of Busch Stadium in St. Louis are top tier," McDermott said.

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