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BYU grad uses engineering to keep Air Force pilots safe


Have you ever used a flight simulator? BYU alum Jessica Collyer tests and improves them every day for her job at Hill Air Force Base as a software test engineer. Collyer received her mechanical engineering degree from BYU in 2016 and now works as a software test engineer for the 309th Software Maintenance group for the United States Air Force.

"I make sure the software works as expected based off the pilots' needs or desires," said Collyer. “I pretty much get to play pilot on a daily basis. I really enjoy being able to see how my work is directly helping others. What I do today has an effect on what happens tomorrow.”

Collyer’s employer, the 309th Software Maintenance group, works in Hill Air Force Base which was named after Major Ployer Peter Hill who died test flying the B-17 Flying fortress. The base is the sixth largest employer in the state of Utah and supports many technical jobs.

Collyer’s work as a software test engineer requires her to work with a team to ensure that the machines that are used by the pilots function correctly. Because flying can be extremely dangerous, her job depends upon precise communication to ensure the team’s safety.

“My team has to work together to accomplish anything,” Collyer said. “We have to communicate clearly what has been done, what needs to be done, and what we need help with. Everyone has something to add to the team, and without each person’s input my team would not be able to accomplish anything.”

While attending BYU she was president of the college’s Engineering and Technology Leadership Council and was involved with several other engineering clubs. Collyer’s experiences at BYU helped give her the foundation necessary to withstand the rigors of her current job.

“While at BYU I learned how to research information to solve a problem, work well with others, push myself to work harder and longer than I thought I could, communicate what I am doing to others and why I am doing it, and also to keep a positive outlook.”

The mixture of communications and technical skills she acquired has helped her find success not only with the technical aspects of her work, but with the people as well. Collyer also participated in the BYU Capstone program which gives students the opportunity to work on a real industry sponsored projects. Collyer and a team designed and built a super mileage vehicle that could get over 1,000 MPG.

“I felt my BYU Capstone project prepared me the best for my career,” Collyer said. “Every day I am working with people who see the same problem differently or are doing work that is affected by what I’m doing. Without communication skills and a good work ethic, my technical knowledge and expertise would be futile.”

Collyer gave some final advice to current students studying engineering and technology.


“Never stop learning,” she said. “There is always something to learn for your profession. Ask those around you every question you have. Always go above and beyond in every assignment your professor or manager gives you. How you react to a situation, and come out of it will help you achieve whatever professional goals you have.”

Media Contact

Krista Tripodi


Josh Wilford


Jessica Collyer

Release Date

March 30, 2018