Ms. Anne Chinnery
M.S. Aeronautical Engineering, 1993
Anne Chinnery earned her bachelor’s degree from the Air Force Academy and her master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from AFIT in 1993. “I specialized in rocket propulsion and space craft attitude dynamics. It was all very relevant to what I am doing today.”
“My degree at AFIT was the first time I really learned how to learn. I wasn’t really challenged in school until I went to AFIT for my master’s degree. It was very good for me and has been helpful throughout my life.”
After earning her degree, Chinnery worked in the intelligence field before being assigned to Vandenberg AFB working on space launches. “That was a very interesting assignment where I got to use some of my master’s degree education and learned a lot about launching rockets.”
After leaving the AF in 1999, Chinnery worked for a several small commercial aerospace companies that allowed her to be more hands on and delve into the technical topics that she loves. She was an early employee with SpaceX where she worked for 11 years. She started as a launch engineer working with integrating the SpaceX vehicle at Vandenberg AFB and moved on to launch operations where she was one of the key launch operators and then worked on the Falcon 9, SpaceX’s current launch vehicle. She then moved to working on their Grasshopper program which helped to validate and develop the technology that is associated with recovery.
“I had the opportunity to be with a company from the very beginning and see it grow and accomplish amazing things. We achieved a lot while we were still very small and most people didn’t expect us to achieve what we did; so being able to make a little history with them was exciting. That was really the highlight of my career.”
Currently, Chinnery is a consultant with another small company Firefly Space Systems. Firefly is a small satellite launch company located in Cedar Park, Texas, created to provide low-cost, high-performance space launch capabilities for the under-served small satellite market, where secondary-payload launches are often the only option.
Chinnery has thrived in the startup industry. “At a small company you get to do a lot of things. You aren’t just sitting in a cubical designing a widget; you get to design the whole subsystem and see the entire process from design to manufacture, test and hopefully see it fly. But you have to be motived because there is a ton of work. That can be challenging, but I think it is just so exciting!”
Regarding her time at AFIT, Chinnery says that “The AFIT program is wonderful. Providing the opportunity for military members to get their master’s degree is very important and it really will help you in the rest of your life and career. I would say thank you to AFIT for the great education I received.”
Chinnery’s advice to current AFIT students is to challenge themselves. “Take classes that are hard, try the things that you aren’t sure you can do because those are the things that will really teach you how to learn.”