From tractors to satellites
Josiah Goodley grew up on a Kansas farm, came to MSU Denver and connected with York Space Systems.
By Amanda Miller
He started out working the land and moved to the mountains for manufacturing. His hands-on career really took off when he joined the military to work on jets, and now he’s aiming even higher.
Growing up on his family’s farm in Goodland, Kansas, Josiah Goodley got a good introduction to working with machines — the kind you need to grow corn, wheat and sunflowers.
He had an idea that he wanted to work in something technical. He started out in industrial engineering at Kansas State University but didn’t feel confident in that choice after a semester, and he didn’t want to rack up loans.
“I convinced myself that I wanted to go out and get field experience,” Goodley says.
He moved to Colorado and went to work at the Coors beer plant in Golden, first as a forklift driver and then as a technician on the aluminum-can-manufacturing line.
His next job was as the primary technician on a machine that formed and filled 700,000 bottles of Nestlé Pure Life water in a 12-hour shift.
That job was seasonal — “I didn’t see myself staying there my entire life,” he says — and he was looking for something to fill the gap when a friend referred him to the Colorado Air National Guard.
“I’ve always had an interest in aviation, and the job opening they had that grabbed my eye was F-16 crew chief,” Goodley says. “I’ve always had this mechanical aptitude from the beginning, and I scored really high on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery).”
Goodley got the job he wanted as a maintainer with the fighters of the 140th Wing at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
“I think I’ve always had more of an interest in how planes work than flying them,” he says.
He served eight years, advancing to the rank of staff sergeant and deploying twice on four-month rotations to South Korea and Japan. In Japan, he did double duty as a student, earning credits in advanced technical writing and rock ’n’ roll history from MSU Denver online.
He had a good incentive to go back to school — plus a pretty special reason.
After his Guard deployments, he qualified for partial tuition under the federal Post-9/11 GI Bill. Combining it with his military education benefits from the state of Colorado covered the cost of his degree.
His fiancée, though, talked him into going back to school.
Goodley has gotten a lot out of the manufacturing side of his degree.
“I’ve been doing a lot of additive manufacturing, which is 3D printing, for a few different projects,” he says.
One was an additively manufactured wheel for a go-cart – lighter, yet stronger, than a conventionally manufactured wheel.
“After all of our testing and whatnot, it’s potentially scalable for a full-size vehicle,” he says.
He spent the final stretch of his degree as an intern on the fourth floor of MSU Denver’s new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, simulating how heat affects satellite components for York Space Systems.
He wants to stick with the space sector.
“I’ve always been fascinated with how space exploration, specifically, has been able to (bring about) all these inventions that have spun off for the betterment of mankind,” he says, “spurred on, essentially, because of the space race.”
Goodley graduates this month with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
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