Interning at Boeing – The Moment I Felt Like A True Engineer

nataliea Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Hi everyone!

This week is National Engineers Week, which we love to celebrate at USC! We have a whole line up of EWeek festivities, including a kick off carnival Tuesday, Quiz Bowl, Talent Show on Wednesday, volunteering Friday morning and our very own Viterbi Ball Friday night! I love EWeek and look forward to it every year. It’s our time to celebrate engineering and engineering achievements, and have fun doing engineering activities and participating in fun engineering competitions. On Viterbi Voices, we’ll be blogging this week about the coolest engineering things we have done as students, and some fascinating engineering technology. Stay tuned!

The moment I truly felt like an engineer was this past summer interning at Boeing in El Segundo at the Satellite Development Center. After three years of studying engineering at USC, I saw in my time at Boeing how applicable my classes were to engineering in the real world.

My dad had been a payload design engineer for TRW (which is now a part of Northrop Grumman) in the 1980s and 1990s so I’d always been fascinated with satellites and space. For my first internship as an engineering student in college, I aimed for the aerospace companies in Los Angeles. As a civil engineer, I was often asked what made me want to go into aerospace. Civil and structural engineering actually have a lot in common with mechanical engineering. In fact at USC, there are a lot of mechanical engineers in my civil engineering classes! Classes like mechanics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and of course physics overlapped with the mechanical engineering curriculum. So while I was slightly out of my element as a mechanical engineering intern working in the bus products department at Boeing, I was able to apply my civil engineering background to my work.

Boeing Satellite

I worked this summer on the ABS (Asia Broadcast Satellite) & Satmex (Satelites Mexicanos) satellites, which are Boeing’s new 702SP (small platform) satellites. These two companies ordered Boeing’s first 702SP telecommunications satellites, which are unique with their all-electric propulsion design. The smaller design gives the satellite a lower launch mass which allows for more payload. These satellites are also unique because 2 satellites can be launched on a single launch vehicle! The satellites aren’t scheduled to launch until 2015, so I didn’t see the final products, but I was able to witness the design and initial manufacturing. In particular, I was working on the mechanical design of the reflector antenna deployment actuator for the satellites. I also supervised thermal-vacuum and vibration testing on the antenna base deployment mechanisms. Besides working in Mechanisms, I loved being surrounded by all the other satellites being manufactured in the halls around me. The fact that I could walk into High Bay and see these massive satellites being manufactured and tested was an incredible experience. One of my other favorite experiences from the summer was meeting astronaut Andrew Feustel, who flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s last mission. After hearing him speak at Boeing, I went to see the Endeavour in person at the California Science Center right across the street from USC! An engineering marvel itself, it was amazing to see the Endeavour in person. Check out the photo below! Happy EWeek!

The Endeavor for my birthday!

The Endeavour for my birthday!

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