Bill Coughenour: Mentoring the next generation of Boeing engineers

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Boeing software engineer Bill Coughenour Jr. credits Penn State for helping him acquire the skills to effectively communicate complex information to clients and colleagues.

“It’s what engineers do every day,” he said.

Bill Coughenour Jr. earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Penn State in 1992. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University in 1992, Coughenour served three years in the U.S. Army as a personnel sergeant, including a year in Germany.

When Coughenour left the Army, he moved to the Poconos area of Pennsylvania. He worked briefly at The Coca-Cola Co. before joining The New York Times as a reconciler and data merger. While working full time, Coughenour finished a bachelor’s degree in computer science at East Stroudsburg University in 2000.

In 1998, he left the Times and spent the next four years in software engineer positions at Dialogic, an Intel company, and at Interactive Intelligence, a telecommunications software computing company. There Coughenour worked on Interactive Intelligence's flagship program, a unified messaging call center application.

When the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, Interactive Intelligence was one of many companies that faced subsequent financial challenges. In July 2001, one-third of the workforce was laid off, including Coughenour.

“I was let go on my wedding anniversary, but my wife and I still went out that night,” he laughed. He believes friends and family are what will carry you through your life, so they should stay at the center of your life.

Undeterred, Coughenour attended a job fair in Philadelphia and interviewed with representatives from Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since joining Boeing in September 2001, Coughenour has designed, developed and implemented software for multiple government projects and has led engineers to test, integrate and execute defense systems.

In 2009, he earned his master's degree in software engineering at Widener University.

Despite following a nontraditional teaching path, Coughenour hones his teaching skills by mentoring Boeing’s new hires.

“I truly enjoy helping young engineers make the often difficult transition from college to a large corporation,” he said.

Coughenour lives in Huntsville, Alabama, with his wife, Sandee, who earned a degree in secondary education from Penn State in 1993, and their children, Garritt and Tessa.

Last Updated November 13, 2019