For those students who have dreamt of working in large-scale tech companies, Chapman Engineering prepares them by offering faculty with industry experience, experimental learning, and human-centered design courses. For computer science and integrated M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science student Olivia Chilvers, her time at the Fowler School of Engineering (FSE) prepared her for a full-time role as a Multidisciplinary Engineer with the Boeing Company before starting her senior year.

Conceptualizing Dreams into Reality

Chilvers has been surrounded by engineering and aerospace since she was a child. She watched her father leave and return from his shifts at Boeing and was told plenty of stories about her grandfather’s time working at McDonell Douglas, currently known as Boeing. She became immersed in aerospace engineering through her family while simultaneously hoping to one day join them working at Boeing. 

“Aerospace has always been in my family, and I traveled a lot as a kid, so I’ve always been obsessed with airplanes,” said Chilvers. 

A young engineering students is posing for a selfie with her father on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side is the sign "Boeing".

Olivia Chilvers gets to work alongside her father at Boeing, who has been with the aerospace company since Chilvers was a child.

In high school, Chilvers had the chance to participate in a STEM course but was denied, “when I tried to take a computer science class in high school, I wasn’t allowed because I don’t think it suited someone of my demographic, which I thought was weird. I kind of took this like, ‘I’m going to do computer science to prove to people wrong.’ I also fell in love with it,” shared Chilvers. 

While in pursuit of challenging the status quo, Chilvers chose Chapman for its exceptional computer science program and contributed to the opening of the Swenson Family Hall of Engineering in 2021. Chilvers had the opportunity to set up circuit boards and 3D printers alongside engineering faculty and TestEquity and Keysight Technologies representatives.

Two students standing next to Chapman University's mascot, Pete the Panther.

Chilvers helped set up a massive amount of electronic equipment in Swenson Hall’s second-floor electronic labs.

Experimental Learning Sets Engineering Students for Success in Career

From her early days at Chapman, Chilvers became familiar with Python, a programming language she uses in her role with Boeing. “Once I worked at Boeing, I could see the intersection, and I have a lot of appreciation for the classes I have taken.” Chilvers’ experience working with programs like Python and JavaScript and taking courses such as human-centered design from her first year at Chapman gave her the confidence to tackle her day-to-day tasks as a multidisciplinary engineer for Boeing. 

“Everything on that track of Python, JavaScript, and data structures, those classes teach you how to make programs and give you the independence to run it because I do almost everything entirely independently,” said Chilvers. 

Tom Springer, Ph.D., assistant professor at Fowler School of Engineering, has 22 years of experience working for the Boeing Company and believes Chilvers’ engagement in the classroom greatly contributed to her being a stellar team player in her career. “In addition to being diligent in her work assignments, she was always willing to help and collaborate with other students. These are qualities that would make her a great teammate and co-worker,” shared Springer.

Balancing Academic Courseload and On-The-Job Duties with Support

As a current undergraduate student, Chilvers works three days a week at Boeing, maintaining different metrics, building an internal website, and providing customer support. In the other four days, Chilvers attends her classes, studies, and cultivates her community at the Fowler School of Engineering. Although her career path has suddenly evolved, Chilvers wants the rest of her time at Chapman to be memorable, “I’m still trying to cherish the moments at Chapman. So, I’m excited that I have an extra year with the master’s program, ” explained Chilvers.

A group of students, faculty, and staff pose for a group photo.

Although Chilvers is a full-time student and part-time engineer, she cherishes the remaining time she has left with the Fowler Engineering community.

Chilvers treasures her time being involved in the Chapman Engineering community and has become part of the first cohort for the M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science program. As a student juggling so much, Chilvers has felt her integrated coursework and job with Boeing have all seamlessly aligned. 

“So, it also worked out well because Boeing has a learning together program. So, if you work for them as long as it’s part-time, they’ll pay for your schooling. So, they’re helping me support my last year of my bachelors and as I finish my masters,” said Chilvers. 

Without hesitation, Chilvers took on each new challenge, feeling well supported by the faculty and staff at FSE. “I am very very grateful to have support from Boeing and the Fowler School of Engineering, and it’s just been so great to see how they intertwine together.”

Within a few months, Olivia Chilvers started an internship with the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing. With great determination and applicable skills from her engineering courses, Chilvers turned her summer internship into a part-time position. She is on track to obtain a full-time position once she graduates with her bachelor’s in computer science in May 2024.