A Summer to ReMEMber: Microelectronics, Drones, and Surfing

Miles Kay Aerospace and Mechanical, Best of LA, Hikes, Internship, Life Outside Of Engineering, Miles, Viterbi Summer, Work Leave a Comment

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and I think that’s exactly why this summer came and went to quickly! It’s hard to believe that in less than a week I’ll be starting my junior year (*screams because college is going too quickly*). This was an incredible summer, and I’m really excited to share what I was up to over the past few months.

This summer, I interned for Northrop Grumman, one of the nation’s leading aerospace and defense contractors. Northrop Grumman has an array of products, from the B-2 stealth bomber to the James WebbSpace Telescope. I worked at Northrop’s site in Redondo Beach, Space Park. I was an Electronics and Payloads intern, which basically means I was working on components of subsystems which will eventually be integrated into satellites, planes, and more. Specifically, I worked in the Microelectronics and Electronics Manufacturing (MEM) group. I can’t give too many details about what I was working on due to its proprietary nature, but I’ll share what I can about my project.

I spent the summer supporting new technologies involving monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). I got the chance to work hands-on with the hardware in Northrop’s electronics assembly and test laboratory, and also had the opportunity to act in a project management role coordinating the various steps in the process of building this hardware, from its smallest components all the way to the completed assembly. This was an incredible chance for me to get exposure to industry and work with real-world engineers on challenging problems. I’m super excited to say I’ll be returning in a part-time role to continue my project with my mentors and managers this fall!

The other MEM interns and I became great friends over the course of the summer!

My favorite part about working at Northrop? The people! Northrop did a great job connecting me with other interns and also providing opportunities for me to network with full-time employees, including VPs and directors. I sat in a large office bay with thirteen other interns from across the country and we all became really great friends! We’d get lunch together every day and hung out several times after work. We also got to work together on creating a poster for a competition amongst all the interns at Space Park, which allowed us to spend a night baking some microelectronics themed cupcakes (yes, they were as delicious as they look)!

We tried to make the cupcakes look like circuit boards or electrical symbols!

After work, I got involved with the Global Summit Innovation Challenge, a program which Northrop puts on for its interns. Global Summit is a design-build-fly program which takes place over the course of two months and groups teams of interns with full-time employee mentors to build different RC vehicles. Each of these RC vehicles has specific requirements, and on our “demo day” all vehicles have to work together to complete different mission scenarios. I was the Team Lead for the Drop Quad vehicle. The Drop Quad is an autonomous quadcopter capable of remote dual payload release. We built the quad from scratch, planning and designing the vehicle and its payload release mechanism, ordering components, building it with the help of our mentors, and then flying it at flight tests, then on the actual day of the event. This was an awesome experience for me — I spent 9-12 hours a week after work in Northrop’s Fab Lab using different tools to build our vehicle, from table saws to soldering irons. My team worked super hard, and created a vehicle which successfully completed its part of the mission on demo day. The engineering experience I got from this project was invaluable, and it’s something I’ll definitely take with me as I continue in my undergrad courses and beyond.

My teammate and me with our quadcopter!

When I wasn’t at work or in the Fab Lab, I loved taking advantage of having free time to spend exploring Los Angeles. You wouldn’t believe how much more freedom you have when you don’t have to worry about doing homework on weekends! My favorite thing to do this summer was surf, I surfed every weekend and sometimes went two or three times in the course of a weekend. I made some friends at Northrop who also surfed, so we’d all go surfing together, even making a trip down to San Onofre to surf the famous break called Old Man’s. Beyond surfing, I got to hike, go on a daytrip to Santa Barbara, go to tons of concerts, and so much more!

I did the Hollywood Sign hike with one of my coworkers!

I’m looking forward to spending many more summers in LA, this was definitely one to remember. Now onto junior year; keep checking back for more blogs about my third year at USC! Fight on!

About the Author

Miles is a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering. Click above to find out more!

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