Wesley Welch

Senior Manager, Program Engineering

Dassault Falcon Jet

Little Rock

Age: 39

Wesley Welch

Wesley Welch always thought his future would be in cars, not planes.

A chance internship while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville changed that focus. He had been coming to the realization that work in the auto industry meant a move to Detroit or some other non-Arkansas locale when he learned about an internship at Dassault Falcon Jet in Little Rock.

“I had a friend who was doing an internship at Dassault Falcon Jet, and I thought, ‘Hey that might be interesting,’” Welch said. “Lo and behold, it was. I ended up staying local and that ended up even better.”

Welch served internships during his junior and senior years and then was hired full time when he graduated in 2001.

He started in engineering design, but soon his talents put him on a management path. In 2005, he became an engineering manager, and in 2008 Dassault sent Welch to Paris as program manager of new aircraft developments.

In his current position, Welch directly supervises 16 engineers and oversees a department of approximately 200. He doesn’t miss hands-on engineering.

“It’s mostly management now, working with schedule, budget, technical risks,” Welch said. “I enjoy it now because of the broad aspect of it. It’s not just one-detail design. I get to see the big picture from start to finish, literally from conception to the delivery of the aircraft.”