5 Questions with Ben Hager ('05)
NASA, Jacobs Engineering Group (Huntsville, AL)
LeTourneau School of Engineering, Business & Technology
What brought you to LETU?
I was looking for a good engineering school where I would also be encouraged to grow in my Christian faith. I considered Oregon State (my parents' alma mater), Cedarville, and Vanderbilt. Oregon State was my second choice, but I chose LeTourneau because of its faith-based curriculum and because I was offered the Presidential Scholarship.
How would you describe your LETU Experience?
From the first moment I arrived LeTourneau felt like family to me. Themelios and the Chaplain Interns really helped me feel welcome and helped me get oriented. I made a lot of good friends that I still keep up with today. I felt like LeTourneau provided many opportunities for me to grow spiritually, academically, physically, personally, and professionally. My LeTourneau family helped carry me through the death of my brother and my father, who passed away a year apart from each other. Finally, LeTourneau helped set the trajectory that launched me on my current career path.
Did any professors have a significant impact?
Dr. Graff had the most impact on my life while at LeTourneau, both in class and out of class. He was one of the professors I confided in the most, and he made it his responsibility to look out for both my spiritual and academic wellbeing. Also my academic advisor, Dr. Leiffer, helped steer me through my courses and encourage me through the challenges I faced. After my brother and father passed away, Dr. Hellmuth and his family took me in as part of their own family. LeTourneau was like a family to me from the moment I stepped on campus, and even now I feel like LeTourneau is my family; in fact, a part of LeTourneau actually is family, I am cousins with Dr. Harold Carl, the University Chaplin.
How has LETU prepared you for your career?
LeTourneau helped me develop a broad experience and knowledge base that has allowed me to be versatile in my career. I concentrated on electrical engineering, but with my general engineering core, I was able to take various aerospace jobs that would normally be filled by mechanical or aerospace engineering majors. Now, I support systems engineering in the development of flight software. Through my work with NASA and Jacobs Engineering Group, I am supporting the development of the SLS Rocket to get humans around the moon, to asteroids and to Mars. I specialize in analyzing the various ways things could go wrong on the rocket and help determine ways we can protect against failures.
What advice would you give to LETU students?
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Many students are so focused on their academics that they miss opportunities to enjoy college life. Make new friends, participate in the ministry and leadership opportunities, and spend time with the underclassmen. They need your help and advice. Don’t be afraid to take an extra year to finish your degree. I packed my 4 year degree into 7, but I had very memorable experiences doing it and am glad I didn’t rush through.
"LeTourneau helped me develop a broad experience and knowledge base that has allowed me to be versatile in my career."