When looking for employment, students have discovered that employers increasingly demand significant practical work experience in addition to sound academic knowledge. The optional Internships and Industry Practicums provide opportunities for students to enhance their education by integrating their engineering knowledge with workplace practice. Internships are paid, full-time summer positions that typically also lead to part-time work during the academic year. The Industry Practicum program was recently established to allow students to complete eight contiguous months in a paid, full-time position. Students participating in the Industry Practicum would work in industry either during the spring/summer of their junior year or the summer/fall of their senior year, thereby extending their graduation date by one semester.
The students' academic and industry work experiences combine to produce a comprehensive learning experience that enriches their academic programs and adds direction to their career development. Participation in the Internship or Industry Practicum programs helps students to make intelligent, informed, reality-based career choices for the future.
DESCRIPTIONS OF RECENT INTERNSHIPS
NASA: Johnson Space Center - Matthew Noyes, 2014
During my four semesters at the NASA Johnson Space Center, I supported many different projects across multiple disciplines. Within Spacecraft Software Engineering’s Morpheus team, my primary task was to develop a 3D telemetry viewer for a new lander vehicle undergoing weekly tests at the center. The application, iMorpheus, can stream live flight telemetry and build a simulated representation of the vehicle in real time. It is available on the iPhone app store and is the primary public outreach application for the Morpheus project. I presented a paper about the application’s backend at a conference held in Naples, Italy this year, and sat on an agency-wide panel discussion of how mobile applications could fit into the space program at Johnson Space Center’s “Innovation Day.”
I also developed a headtracking system using a Nintendo Wii-Mote and the Unity 3D game engine to simulate a virtual window. This software could be used to train astronauts in the virtual reality laboratories at the center, as well as a realistic replacement for physical windows on the spacecraft of the future. Smaller projects included writing control software for jet thrusters on a prototype craft that will one day be used to dock with asteroids, supporting Shuttle simulations in Mission Control to test a new docking mechanism, designing user interfaces for a deep-space habitat’s geology laboratory software, and writing iPad controller software to monitor telemetry and control the habitat. I helped built a cockpit mockup for astronaut crew training, as well.
With the Dexterous Robotics Laboratory, I helped develop hardware for the Centaur series rover, design test platforms for new gimbal mechanisms, write control software for these gimbals, and run demos of the Lunar Electric Rover for visiting scientists and students. I helped manage a team of high school interns to build a series of these gimbals for further testing.
I spent a lot of time volunteering with colleagues at various outreach programs, including building houses for Habitat for Humanity, raising money for a domestic abuse shelter, as a judge for the Houston FIRST Tech Challenge and University of Houston Mars Rover Celebration, and as a mentor for middle school students in the BEST Robotics Competition and for the Texas High School Aerospace Scholars. I ran mission control simulations for families and young leadership camps for the Houston Museum of Natural Science, prepared meals for the homeless at the Houston Food Bank, and produced 5 outreach videos published on NASA’s official YouTube channel.
During my time with NASA, I was given Outstanding Intern awards for two of the four semesters I participated. I have been invited back to NASA for the Summer 2013 term, and I hope to begin full-time employment with the organization following graduation in 2014. It has always been my goal to contribute to America’s space program, and I am very lucky to have been given this opportunity.
Click here to read Matthew's Publication
OptiPro Systems - Franciscus Wolfs, 2012
"I interned at OptiPro Systems in Ontario, N.Y. OptiPro Systems is a manufacturer of CNC optical grinding / polishing machines & metrology equipment for precision optics, and a distributor of Mastercan and elite machine tools. I worked on developing the algorithm for deterministic polishing on parts that were not symmetric when rotated. This is done to correct the error that is left from the grinding process. I also worked on analyzing the force applied during polishing for various setups. This is important for understanding how the machine performs and improving the quality of the part made. Most of my analysis was done with the aid of MatLab."
Lockheed Martin - Brent Gordon, 2011
"I spent seven months working at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control plant in Orlando, Florida under the industry practicum program. While there, I learned about the precision grinding, polishing, and measurement of advanced optics using the latest technology available in the industry. I also gained experience in tool design using Pro Engineer and manufacturing process development. It was a great opportunity to test drive a company and I returned to work with the same team after graduating in December, 2011."
MIT Lincoln Laboratory - Christopher Roll, 2011
For my Industry Practicum, I spent eight months at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. This is a federally funded research and development facility in Lexington, MA that focuses on advancing technology for national security. During my time there, I worked as apart of a multi-disciplinary engineering team to develop a laser communication system. Specifically, I focused on designing part of the optomechanical subsystem using SolidWorks 3D modeling software. It was an excellent experience where I learned many key engineering skills. After graduation, I will be returning to work for the Lab.
DAAD RISE Program at TU Ilmenau, Germany - Marc Karasek '08
DAAD, the German Academic Exchance Service, is a German government-sponsored organization with a program called RISE: Research Internships in Science and Engineering. Most projects do not require German language ability. I worked directly with Ph.D. students who were creating prototypes of a nanopositioning machine, a measurement device aimed at positioning to the accuracy of one nanometer. My main assignment was to write Simulink control algorithms for the prototypes. I worked with dSpace and Matlab technology as well as optical equipment like autocollimators and interferometers.
Axsys Technologies - Heather Howard '08
Axsys Technologies designs and manufactures high-precision optical components for military, medical, and commercial use. The location I worked at specialized in thermal imaging. I was assigned to design a pressure-testing mechanism using SolidWorks. The completed system was used to test riflescope optics for failure at extreme operating conditions.