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Engineer finds her force for innovation

In a galaxy not so far away, Alexis Khalil, an Equipment and Tooling engineer at Boeing South Carolina, is wielding the force of 3D printing to innovate tooling solutions for the 787 program. Her passion for additive manufacturing started with her love of theStar Warsfilm series.

“Growing up I was fascinated by the movies because of how detailed the galaxy is. Droids in particular were so fun and an interesting addition to it all. Star Wars took a bunch of mechanical parts and gave them personalities. Then, one day I realized I had the ability to figure out how to make my own,” Khalil said. “I have been able to take the basics I have learned in 3D modeling and 3D printing through these passion projects and amplify them through learning the tooling process and designing with relational modeling.”

Khalil’s portfolio includes a life-size droid named “Clink” from
the series called Star Wars: The Bad Batch. (Kaitlin Stansell photo)

Her passion projects started with the iconic R2-D2. But her most intricate design to date, a 3D-printed droid named “Clink,” has allowed her to showcase her technical skills and even explore how to bring her droids to life through motion.

“I have endless excitement for the ability to have an idea in my head and then just make it a part of my reality,” Khalil said. “Passion is a special type of magic when learning.”

She’s been able to bring that same passion to her professional role as well, finding a perfect fit within the tooling side of engineering. During a college networking event, she met her future manager who helped her realize how her affinity for 3D-printing Star Wars droids could translate to a career in aerospace beyond just the cosmic similarities.

“I showed Heath Olinger, the senior manager for 787 Production Engineering, my portfolio full of some passion projects that showed off my technical skills. After seeing my passion for 3D modeling and 3D printing, he shared that I would probably love tooling — spoiler, he was right,” Khalil said. “I started my time at BSC with the Early Career Experience (ECE) program where I got the opportunity to rotate through four teams over the course of two years, learn how we operate and find a role that I would enjoy. To no one’s surprise, I found my place in tooling.”

Khalil collaborates across various functions with teammates like Adekunle Samuel, a manufacturing engineer at BSC, to support tooling needs using 3D printing.
(Kaitlin Stansell photo)

Khalil’s daily work includes supporting production with tools for the 787 Aftbody assembly and integration. Her responsibility can range from creating brand-new tools to working emergent events on existing tools.

“My favorite part of the tooling process is the 3D modeling and getting the opportunity to manufacture via 3D printing. Also, it involves a lot of team collaboration with the Innovation Cell, Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Business Operations and mechanics,” Khalil said.

She believes the force of 3D printing can allow anyone to create practical solutions, solve complex problems, and unleash their creativity like “Jedi” masters. From fixing equipment to crafting intricate models, the possibilities — as Khalil sees them — are as vast as the galaxy itself.

Khalil peers into a 3D printer in the Innovation Cell located in the 787 Aftbody facility.
(Kaitlin Stansell photo)

By Kaitlin Stansell