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Fires, Bikes and Naval Aircraft: What got Vista Engineers Hooked (and What Keeps Them Engaged!)

It’s National Engineers Week and we couldn’t design a better time of year to recognize a few of our engineers. These featured engineers chose their profession – and stuck with it – for a reason. We asked them why they dove in, and what keeps them coming back for more. Here’s what we found:

 

Alex Chavez, Mechanical Engineer – Outdoor Sports Optics

Years of Service as an Engineer:
15 years Designing and Engineering Electro-Optics for the Military/Firearms industry

Years of Service at Vista:
3 years

What got you interested in the engineering field?
When I was child I always drew pictures of cars and guns. When I was in 6th grade, I built my first robot. Unfortunately, it caught on fire and my mom destroyed it while putting out the fire.

I’ve been building and designing stuff ever since then. I had a good mentor who was hired by the military to design weapon retrofit systems. His work got me interested in this field. He also helped me get my first job in the industry. The rest is history!

What is the most satisfying aspect/s of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
The most satisfying part of my job is seeing our customers use and enjoy our products. I put a lot of thought into the products and when those small details are noticed and appreciated by the consumer I know I have designed a good Vista product.

 

Andrew Just, Product Engineer – Federal Ammunition

Years of Service as an Engineer:
4 years full-time and five years total.  I began as a Shotshell Manufacturing Engineer Intern in 2014 and was hired as a Product Engineer for Shotshell Future Factory projects in 2015.

Years of Service at Vista:
5 years

What got you interested in the engineering field?
I enjoyed solving problems, working on machines and learning about automation and product design.

What is the most satisfying aspect/s of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
Collaborating with a team of all trades and positions to drive design and factory improvements in Shotshell and to make our factory easier and more efficient to run, while driving down production costs.

 

Austin Heinrich, Manufacturing Engineer – CCI/Speer

Years of Service as an Engineer:
4 years

Years of Service at Vista:
4 years

What got you interested in the engineering field?
The way I was raised. I was exposed to fabrication and complex machinery from a young age. That exposure lead to an interest in mechanical engineering.

What is the most satisfying aspect/s of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
Contributing to a team that can solve and accomplishing ANYTHING.

 

Bryan Peterson, Manager, Product Concept Development – Federal Ammunition

Years of Service as an Engineer:
15  years

Years of Service at Vista:
11 years

What got you interested in the engineering field?
I was fortunate enough to have high school teachers and especially my parents who helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses in choosing a path into college.  I’ve been an avid hunter and shooter since a young age and am grateful every day that I have a career that allows me to work on products that are of great personal interest.

What is the most satisfying aspect/s of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
Supporting DoD customers with the best ammunition solutions available is without a doubt the most fulfilling part of my job, and it is always encouraging and exciting to witness user reactions during demonstrations or evaluations of new ammunition technology.

On the commercial ammunition side, I always get a kick out of my kids asking me to point out products I had a hand in developing as we shop at various outdoor product stores.

 

Oscar Woods, Design Engineer, BLACKHAWK

Years of Service as an Engineer:
4 years

Years of Service at Vista:
3 years

What interested you in the engineering field?
I was enlisted in the Navy as an Aviation Structural Mechanic for eight years maintaining naval aircraft. I was exposed to countless interactions with the mechanical systems of aircraft structure, landing gear, flight controls, hydraulic and pneumatic systems. I was fascinated by how these systems worked in tandem to perform the high expectations required for the mission day in and day out.

Once the post 9/11 GI Bill was released, it was an easy decision to separate and begin a new career. Mechanical Engineering captured all the material applications that I had been trained to repair and inspect particularly with hydraulics and high cycle systems.

What is the most satisfying aspect of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
Hands down, contributing to our American designed and manufactured product!

 

Travis Overfelt, Mechanical Engineer – Outdoor Products – Optics

Years of Service as an Engineer:
11 years

Years of Service at Vista:
2.5 years

What got you interested in the engineering field?
Bicycle, ATV and automotive hobbies at a young age. Working on these various apparatus, recognizing design flaws and wanting to make things better.

What is the most satisfying aspect/s of being an engineer at Vista Outdoor?
I am an avid firearms and shooting enthusiast who also competes in long range precision shooting (PRS). It is fantastic to work on designs that I can put to personal use. A lot of engineering roles do not get to realize the designs they work on and for many of those who do, they do not get to make any use of them. Stated differently, riflescopes are more fun than 2-ton, industrial gearboxes.

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