Homecoming alumni reunions: Phil Putter Class of 1999

John Mauro, Staff Writer

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While others might be focusing on life on the ground, Phil Putter ‘99 spends his days with his eyes in the sky.

Putter switched jobs three weeks ago and began working at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which overlooks all aspects of civil aviation in the nation.

At the FAA, Putter works as a policy analyst, bringing different offices together to come up with the agency’s policies and regulations ranging from issues affecting passengers to aircraft regulation, he said.

Prior, Putter had worked at the Congressional Affairs Office at NASA for the last five years as a liaison with Congress, keeping it up to date on NASA affairs. “I would often be called in to answer questions on what NASA’s working on and to plan meetings for NASA officials,” Putter said.

Putter’s fascination for aircraft, began when he was a little kid, he said. “I was always amazed that these giant pieces of metal could get up and fly and take you to incredible places all across the world.”

During the 2000 Presidential Election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, while Putter was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, he became interested in politics and government, as the whole nation was gripped with the Florida recount, he said.

“I wanted to study political science in college, and I wanted to work in Congress,” Putter said. “After graduating, I worked for some members of the House of Representatives in their personal offices as a senior legislative staffer helping to write bills and prepare for Congressional hearings.”

When Putter worked for NASA on Capitol Hill, he would always be on call with a demanding and unpredictable schedule, but now he enjoys his standard nine to five work week with the FAA, he said.

For Putter, the most enjoyable part of his work is that he can spend time working on a subject matter that he’s so personally interested in, he said.

“This is the first time that I’ve been working on something that I would actually spend my free time reading about,” Putter said. “The manufacturers, the airlines – I’m glad I can work on something I’m personally interested in. It doesn’t even feel like work sometimes.”

Although Putter didn’t bring much academic knowledge from the school into his career, he remembers he enjoyed playing on the tennis team, he said.

“I remember that the tennis team was extremely competitive,” Putter said. “I thought I was pretty good, but I didn’t make it past JV. One year I got the opportunity to play for the school at the Mayor’s Cup, and in the third round of the cup, I played at the site of the US Open. My time on the tennis team was definitely a highlight of my HM experience.”

“Regularity is good; it’s good to be working at something you’re interested in, but also to have that free time after that lets you live your life and follow your other pursuits,. ” he said.

Putter also formed strong bonds with his teachers, he said.

“One of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Enright, made my time at the school really enjoyable,” he said. “She taught Foundations, this eclectic class of English, Literature, and human evolution. I felt a real connection with her. She made me feel welcomed and pushed me to learn.”
Instead of attending reunions, Putter prefers to stay in touch directly with the people he wants to stay in touch with, he said. “Although I don’t really enjoy the reunion itself, before the 10 year reunion I had dinner with some of my friends and that was much more important to me,” he said.