Pratt & Whitney Intern, University of Tennessee Quarterback Balances Football and Flight

Some might say that his arm is like an engine, propelling a prolate spheroid (or football) to where the air is thin.

He is a young man, a scholar, and a quarterback who lives for flight on and off the field. The passions of Josh Dobbs are most likely shared by many young men in this country, football and aerospace.

"I knew I wanted to major in aerospace engineering," said Dobbs, standing in front of an F135 engine in West Palm Beach, Florida. "Tennessee had that field, had the major, obviously a great tradition and prestigious SEC football school was kind of the perfect mix between athletics and academics."

Dobbs, a junior, has achieved one dream already as the starting quarterback for the Volunteers, and he is working on another – a future career in aviation.

"It grew in middle school; my mom signed me up for the Tuskegee Airman Camp in Atlanta. There I was able to see the Delta facility in Hartsville-Jackson, and that's where they do maintenance on engines, maintenance on planes, the engine is broken apart, and the planes pulling in off the runway for maintenance. The fascination grew even more," Dobbs said.

Sure, a classroom is designed to be a den of discourse and knowledge, but Dobbs hungered for real world experience, an internship. He says he was lucky to find Pratt & Whitney, and lucky to have a mentor like test engineer David Fisher.

The two were meant to work together, because Fisher loves orange. He really loves orange. He should – he's a University of Tennessee graduate.

"I first heard from a co-worker and I thought he was joking," Fisher said, also standing in front of the advanced F135 engine. "I grew up 10 minutes from campus, so I was bleeding orange by the time I was old enough to walk. When I heard he was coming and he was actually going to be in our group, talked to my boss and said, 'I want to be his mentor.'"

Dobbs was assigned to West Palm's A9 Test Stand in the Systems, Engineering, Validation, or SEV, group, excited to learn about one of the most powerful engines ever constructed, the F135.

"I was able to go out and stand in front of it, that was pretty cool. Feel it beating my chest and through my legs and down through my feet, and it was pretty neat," Dobbs said.

As mystified as Dobbs is with this innovative piece of hardware, there are those equally mystified about a starting SEC quarterback with a knack for physics. Plus, it's nice to find a loyal fan base in a land surrounded by, well – Florida gators.

"As long as we beat Florida, everything else is gravy," Fisher said with purpose.

Dobbs is proficient in the Xs and Os, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and other science related courses that amaze his teammates. And while there are dreams of the NFL, he knows there will come a time when aviation eclipses athletics. He has one idea of where he might like to land.

"Being a part of Pratt & Whitney is definitely something special, it's a prestigious company. It's been an honor and a privilege to be a part of Pratt & Whitney, just like it's an honor and privilege to be a Tennessee Volunteer," Dobbs said.

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