Cheering and engineering from stadiums to space, this Boeing engineer brings energy to all she does
Don’t ask Megan Dolan to decide.
“A lot of people said I wouldn’t be able to do both, but I was able to make it work,” Dolan said.
When Dolan wasn’t working on a flight test program, she was cheering for the Seattle Seahawks as a National Football League cheerleader.
“It’s so awesome stepping out onto Lumen Field on Seahawks game day in front of 70,000 fans. You feel the energy vibrating in your entire body,” Dolan said. “It’s so exciting, energetic, and loud. The fans are awesome. Rain or shine, they are there. To get to dance and do what I love on that field for those fans was really special.”
Dolan is a master at navigating the seemingly different worlds of cheerleading and engineering. In her role on the ecoDemonstrator program, she worked as a technical integrator to take technologies out of the lab and test them in the air to solve real-world challenges for airlines, passengers, and the environment.
“It’s a lot of time management,” Dolan said. “I’ve learned how much I really do love both. I knew I didn’t want to give up dance, and I knew I didn’t want to give up aerospace. I think if you are passionate about both, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.”
Dolan started tap-dancing at age two at her local community center. She loved it immediately and gained an appreciation for the music and rhythm. She then started doing jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, modern, and hip-hop.
“When I got to college, I started doing pom,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to keep doing it, but I was nervous because there are only so many hours in a day.”
Dolan attended the University of Washington (UW) knowing she wanted to be an engineer, but also wanting to pursue her other passion — dancing.
“I’ve always been interested in engineering, specifically aerospace” Dolan said. “My dad flew F/A-18s in the U.S. Navy, and my grandfather flew B-17s in World War II. And multiple other family members flew, like my mom! Flight’s always been something I was interested in, but they never pushed me, which I’m thankful for. They let me figure out for myself how cool it is.”
Dolan was able to keep dancing while managing her course load in college. “People told me I wasn’t going to be able to complete my aeronautical and astronautical engineering degree while dancing on the UW Dance Team for four years, being captain and going to Nationals — and sometimes I almost believed them. But I’m glad I didn’t,” she said.
Dolan landed an internship at Boeing in 2019.
“I had an awesome experience interning in Avionics Integration in Everett, Washington. I assisted full-time engineers with their tasks and completed an intern project with a leadership report out. I was able to attend tours throughout the summer including the Everett Factory, Customer Experience Center, and flight simulators,” said Dolan.
“I was encouraged to set up informational interviews to learn about the amazing work being done at the company. One of the engineers in my group even took a group of us flying around the San Juan Islands!”
Her experience during her internship led her to pursue a job at Boeing.
“After learning about all the work being done at Boeing, I could see myself there.
My coworkers also made my experience great, and I knew I wanted to work at a company that attracted such talented people,” Dolan said.
After balancing both cheering and engineering on a professional level, Dolan made the move from Boeing’s Commercial Business to Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS).
“I’m excited. It’s definitely bittersweet because I loved my previous job. I feel like I’ve learned so much being in this integration role and working with cross-functional teams. But I’m just as excited to transition to BDS and work on spacecraft. I’m also looking to find a way to continue dancing as I move to a new Boeing site.
“I love airplanes, but I also love space,” Dolan said. “So I’m really excited to see something totally new and work on a completely different team, on the defense and space side. I’m from a military family, so I’m excited to support that.”
Dolan has become an expert at balancing her passions, and she encourages others to follow their dreams.
“You can learn from every person and every experience. All the soft skills and problem-solving skills that I learned outside of school translated so well to now working in the aerospace industry, post-college,” Dolan said.
“Interning at Boeing was an incredible experience that got me where I am today. Internship requisitions can be found on the Boeing website, and I also encourage you to seek out career fairs or informational events to attend at your school or in your area. If you can attend, be sure to ask questions and share your experience and why you are excited about aerospace,” said Dolan.
Her advice to fellow dreamers and doers: “Take advantage of every experience you have. Learn as much as you can from everything. When you are studying tough material, or you’re trying to solve this difficult homework problem and you’re discouraged, always remember you’re capable.
“If you really want to succeed in this field, keep working hard, seek out mentors, and bring your passion to everything you do.”