Aerospace in the Fast Lane: An Interview with Dr. Zaidi

James claims that all aerospace engineers know from a young age that that is their passion – and Dr. Zaidi seems to agree! Read James’ interview of his aerospace professor to get an inside look at why he’s an AE and how he landed the job at GTL!

Dr. Zaidi himself!

Today after what seems like an eternity, I finally sat down with Dr. Zaidi, my  Aerospace professor. I had been chasing this interview for quite some time, but every time something came up; either he was busy or I was. However, it was worth the wait.

Born in New York City, Dr. Zaidi like the rest of aerospace engineers, was destined for the field. We bonded over this during the interview discussing how in order to make it in this field, you have to know early on that this is what you want to do. Born to parents from Mumbai, India Dr. Zaidi would often fly home – what back then was not a nonstop flight, but a flight that was so long that they needed to stop and refuel somewhere in Europe each time.

This is where his passion came from. He told me, “I remember standing at the gate, my parents were in line, but I was glued to the window always looking at the plane. Back then it was the 747 – she was the Queen of the skies!” From this, he has gone on to build an entire profession and life around planes and aviation. Dr. Zaidi attended a vocational high school in NYC geared towards aviation. Before coming to Tech he interned with Delta doing aircraft maintenance.

Four years as a Yellow Jacket saw him earning his undergrad and set out for the world. Unfortunately, just as he graduated the economy tanked, making industry jobs much harder to come by. With an attractive offer from Tech’s graduate school, the professor was born. Six years later, Dr. Zaidi had his Masters and PhD. While in grad school a friend tipped him onto CETL, the Center of Enhancement for Teaching and Learning. Simply put, the center focuses on improving teachers’ teaching. “Taking the courses in undergrad I saw how there were a number of ways to improve the courses. The curriculum can be very difficult, and I wanted to do a better job at teaching than I had seen.” This what brought him to Georgia Tech-Lorraine.

Photo courtesy of Journey of Innovation (

And of course, two AE’s couldn’t be in a room without a little plane talk. So as the interview concluded Dr. Zaidi gave me some advice and an inside scoop on planes today. During Graduate school, his focus was on jet propulsion and he interned with Rolls Royce. Because this is a field quite similar to one I wish to go into, Dr. Zaidi explained to me, just like in lecture, how now is a great time to be an aerospace engineer. Modern day jets are reaching the plateau of the “S Curve” (graph depicting the efficiency of the engine), meaning that the normal turbines cannot be made more efficient. Instead companies are now shifting to new designs, different engines altogether, and all in all, truly amazing stuff. The current paradigm shift is very exciting for budding Aerospace engineers, and the field as a whole.

A true role model and great teacher Dr. Zaidi will no doubt go on to better our rep of Aerospace faculty at Georgia Tech.