D-Hangar Part 2

At work this week, Gary (my new roommate and co-worker) and I disassembled the glare shield and side consoles in the cockpit. Our supervisor ran us through some engineering drawings and modifications before we started. One eighth of the D-hangar is full of mobile boards which hold open task cards, drawings, and paperwork for the maintenance techs to complete. DA uses an intricate system of distributing work using these boards, but it hasn’t failed them so far. One thing I have learned is that the paperwork must weigh more than the plane. Our job today was to disassemble the cockpit and access the area under the windscreen frame where the two side windscreens meet the two fronts. After that, the instructions asked us to drill holes to allow standing water to drain. The modification also incorporates a hose that leads to the lowest part of the aircraft belly. Most of the Dash 8s at DA already have this modification because most of the planes are parked outside. Any rain water that seeps through the windscreen seal will eventually corrode the metal and become unsafe. Over all it was a really fun project.

Monday, I had gloves holding on the tips of both of my ring fingers. This was the result of an accident which occurred while working on construction over the weekend. Tim, my lead technician for the day, noticed right off the bat and didn’t hesitate to crack a smile as well as a few jokes. Tim is a contractor working in the D-hangar with me. He and I started working at DA the very same day. Oddly enough, we actually met and went through HR at the same time, but never knew we would be working together. Tim has worked just about everywhere in the US, and on just about every commercial plane there is. His true passion though, lies with antique aircraft. Tim used to work on military aircraft restoration projects and can easily ID any old school plane out there. Tim also worked on military bomber aircraft during some of the wars, which I never got sick of hearing about during lunch time. Today, Tim and I removed the main landing gear wheels and even split the wheel halves apart to switch out the tires. We did this so that the tires that are still airworthy don’t dry rot and make flat spots while the plane sits on the hangar floor. The project required a lot of attention to detain and a focus on safety for everyone in and around the plane. Jacking up an aircraft of this magnitude was amazing to watch. The power of hydraulics is astounding.

Friday of last week I helped install a windscreen on one of the unairworthy planes sitting in the hangar. The plane will most likely become just an organ donor later down the line. I am glad it was my task card though, because today I was pulled out of D-hangar to do it again, only this time it was for real. A Dash 8 sitting on the ramp was getting close to its deadline for recertification. The windscreen was sent out for repairs weeks ago and was back, ready for installation. Installing a windscreen correctly is extremely important. Not following proper torque order, or the improper use of the tools, and your left with starting over. Worst of all, if the improper installation never gets reported, you’re looking at a convertible. Another tech watched me work and gave me some helpful tips for hand torqueing with a screw driver. I used valve grinding compound to get a better grip on the screw head. By the way, why are we using triwings?! Every screw head strips right out. Everyone I talk to hates this fact about the Dash 8. The tech and I ended up staying well past 5pm and got some overtime. The install took a while but was absolutely worth it. Quality Control (QC) knows my name now, and for good reasons.

The same plane from yesterday needs to be out of the hangar today. The managers working on the plane were running around double checking task cards and verifying paperwork. You could say I earned my stripes today working on such a time sensitive project. Whenever the managers needed work to get done, they came to me first. It felt great knowing they trusted me to do the jobs right the first time. Reviewing the maintenance manuals every morning and my training from ERAU is really paying off!

Today’s job was a conformity check. Trickling down the ladder from upper management today was an unusual request. The senior staff wanted a list of all the serial and part numbers for the GCU’s as well as some other items. I spent the whole day climbing through planes on the ramp and in the hangar, looking for numbers. It sure was an easy day, but different than my normal routine.

With the boots removed from the composite leading edges, I couldn’t help but think of Professor Billette back at school. He would go nuts if he saw these leading edges and their defects. Some of the cracks and holes exposed Kevlar layers, composite materials that I got to work with in his class. This is just one more reason why the training at ERAU for my A&P was the right choice. I prepped the boots for repairs and sent them to the composite shop. That was cool to see.

I got to work on prop assemblies today! I disassembled the hubs and removed each individual prop so that the parts could be shipped overseas to the DA aircraft currently in operation. You know it’s a fun day when you need a forklift to access what you’re working on.

Karl, the president of DA, owns a DC-3 named “Miss Virginia”. This specific plane has been in his family for years and was one of their original aircraft his dad flew when he owned the company. Every year, Karl’s team of technicians get the plane ready for Oshkosh. For weeks all the interns except me, have been scraping nasty old insulation from the interior side of the aircraft skin. Something about it being a fire hazard was the reason for starting the whole project. After about day three, all the interns were complaining about their hurt fingers and how boring the plane was. I made sure to never say a word about the subject. After about a week, I was pulled in to the hangar with the DC-3 and was needed to help install a prestart oil pump for the massive radial engines it has. I pretty shocked I wasn’t scraping insulation that day. I calmly looked over the paperwork for the STC and some drawings an engineer for DA drew up. I knew right off the bat it wasn’t going to work. Before my current job, I used to install propane tanks and lines for my father’s company. I have climbed through some of the tightest and hottest attacks in Florida. Running hoses and lines through tight and irregular spaces quickly became my specialty. I knew this pump location in the wheel well wasn’t going to work. I was able to describe to my lead a better way to route the lines and a more feasible location of the pump. Keeping AC 43.13 general rules in mind, thank you Mr. Beckwith, The other techs loved the idea and it became “my” project. By the end of the week we had the lines and pumps installed, electrical wire routed, and the ops checked “OK”. I guess I owe my dad for this one.

My next project on the DC-3 was oxygen system removal. I removed all the oxygen lines running under the floor boards back to the servicing port at the trail edge wing root on the left hand side. This was especially difficult with everyone trying to restore the insulation and renovate the interior. I had finally pulled the last line of tubing through its rubber grommets when the line jerked and my back quickly bumped into something. That something happened to be a box full of assorted rivets. I can’t describe to you the sound of hundreds of rivets flying through the air and hitting the metal skin belly of the DC-3. The entire hangar, full of more than 80 technicians and everyone in the plane went silent! My body froze. It felt like 5 minutes had passed before the last ricocheting rivet lay to rest on the floor of the plane. Finally it was over. “Gravity ops check OK” shouted out the first technician willing to break the silence.  ”Thank goodness someone said something” I thought to myself. Not to mention something quite hilarious. Most of the guys around me chuckled. I cleaned up the mess which took a while to do, and left the plane to take a short break and clear my head. 10 minutes later I was back to work, cracking a smile, and taking the beatings of jokes I surely deserved.

My last job on the DC-3 was yesterday. I was tasked with greasing all the control cables leading to the empennage. It was a fun job because no one else could do it. To grease the cables in the tail you have to bend around so many things, other cables being one of them. After that, I had to maneuver myself over the structural box containing the tail wheel. I wish I had a photo of how tight the area was. This whole week working on the DC-3 has been amazing. I will never forget the 200+ fasteners and work it took to install those two fuel tank belly panels. So many great stories were made this week.

It’s my last week! The parts department of the D-hangar has employed me these last couple of days to help track and fill out parts tags for everything inside the parts cage and conex. My writing hand is about to fall off it’s so tired. Looking back at this summer, I have done some really interesting projects and learned a ton about aircraft maintenance, so much more than if I had stayed in Daytona for the summer. If I had to choose my favorite part of it all, I would hands down choose the people I worked with and met. Without the guys from work like Tim, Aaron, Ricky, the entire sheet metal and interiors department, including my roommate Gary, this internship wouldn’t have been anywhere near as enjoyable or informational. I learned so much this summer and it’s mostly because of these guys I now call friends. If I don’t come back to Virginia to work, I hope I find an employer with as many motivated and down-to-earth employees as I found here at DA. This internship has truly been an amazing life and career experience and I would absolutely do it again.

Only the Beginning

Last week was officially the last week of my internship. I can’t believe this incredible summer is already coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was on a plane to Charlotte heading to the All-Star race. But let me tell you, this summer will definitely go down as one of the most memorable, opportunistic, and eventful summers of my life. I’ve met so many people, had a blast with the interns here in Daytona, and have learned more about NASCAR than I thought was possible. I’m sure it will be difficult for me to go back to school after my amazing summer, but I’ve never been so focused, determined, and excited for what’s to come.

The July races at Daytona International Speedway were definitely one of the highlights this summer. I finally had the opportunity to attend a race as a professional and not as a fan, and that made all the difference for me. It’s my time to decide which side of the fence I will be on: am I destined as a fan in the grandstands, or do I really have what it takes to be in the garages with some of the best in the business. I took advantage of every minute I had at the track by walking through the garages and networking. Like I’ve said before, if there’s one thing you need to be good at in life, it should be networking.

I was curious to see how some of the engineers got their start and what advice they could give me. I am so very grateful that engineers from Stewart-Hass Racing took the time to talk to me, tell me about what they do, give me advice as I finish up my last two years in school, and even keep in contact with me. John Klausmeier, the Race Engineer for Danica Patrick’s crew, has been helping me build my résumé and make it motorsports engineering specific. I also got the chance to talk to Alan Gustafson, Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, who I also met at the All-Star race in Charlotte. Alan is someone who I’ve always looked up to as an engineering student working towards a career in NASCAR. He previously attended Embry-Riddle, which influenced my decision to attend ERAU.

Alba Colon, the program manager at GM, went out of her way to meet up with me for a few minutes. She is truly a pioneer for women in engineering in motorsports, and someone who will be a great mentor for me as I pursue my career. I even got the chance to give my business card to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. The advice and time that I received from these professionals in this sport was priceless and confirmed my aspirations to be in their shoes someday.

 

A few more highlights from race weekend included a pace car ride, victory lane with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, check presentations, and enjoying the race with the interns.

Coke Zero 400 Victory Lane

The last few weeks of my 10-week internship went by the fastest. I was busy working on several projects up until the very last day! The most time consuming project that I was tasked with was the weekly track survey. During the month of July, it was my responsibility to call the 55 weekly promoters and conduct a survey, gaining valuable feedback about sponsorship programs, promoter events, and future business opportunities.  Although I spent most of my days on the phone, this project was the biggest learning experience for me. Not only was I able to learn about the program from my supervisors in the Weekly and Touring department, but from the promoters, who often shared many different views and perspectives.
 
Using the feedback from the promoters, I created a Survey Recap and presented it to my entire department. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life… In the end, my presentation went very well, and my department was impressed with all of the hard work I had put into the recap. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to receive such high recognition from everyone in my department.
 

The interns with VP Marcus Jadotte

Just about every week, the NASCAR interns had the opportunity to connect with NASCAR executives at a Lunch & Learn. The executives would share with us their role in the company, their perspective as professionals in the sports industry, and ended the lunch with a Q&A session. A few of the featured executives included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte, VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist, VP of Human Resources Paula Miller, and Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard Lapchick.

The interns with Dr. Richard Lapchick

The NASCAR interns showed Daytona that they knew how to have a good time. We had an unforgettable summer together – whether it was going to the beach, movies, Daytona night life, line dancing, hibachi, New Smyrna Speedway, or a tour at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was never a dull moment with the interns. I can easily say that we will all be lifelong friends as we pursue our careers in the sports industry.

New Smyrna Speedway

Checking out weekly racing at New Smyrna Speedway

4th of July in Daytona

Touring ESPN Wide World of Sports

The interns with Pluto!

As I sadly watch this experience come to the end, I now know exactly what I need to do as I build my engineering experience. I plan on getting involved with local race teams or maybe even gaining experience at Spirit of Daytona. I’ve never wanted this more than I do now and I am going to do everything possible to ensure my career in motorsports is a success. My NASCAR internship may be over, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning.

 

Check out the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Newsletters:

Night of Fire

Racing, racing, and more racing! These last few weeks I’ve been so caught up in the motorsports scene and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weekend following my trip to Connecticut, I traveled with the Larsen Motorsports team to Georgia for the Night of Fire at Atlanta Dragway. Even though I haven’t been to a whole lot of races with the team, considering I started interning there in January, I’m still going to say that this race was my favorite! After arriving Friday afternoon and setting up, we enjoyed the night with some teambuilding. We ate delicious BBQ, had a blast at Funopolis with go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and arcade games, and ended the night with the pool and hot tub.

Setting up at Atlanta Dragway with the jet shop greaser girls.

After a fun night of play, the next day at the track was all work. However, being a part of the team never seems like work to me. I always enjoy being at the track, learning something new, and interacting with the fans.  Because of my internship with NASCAR this summer, I have noticed I am paying even more attention to detail. Now that I have a better understanding of the business side of the motorsports industry, I believe that this has allowed me to understand the technical side a little better, oddly enough. I now have a well-rounded perspective of racing, which will enable me to become a better engineer. I have a greater sense of urgency to learn – and not only learn what, but how and why, as well. I am making every single moment a learning opportunity, even when we are just talking with fans or during some down time.

Theresa Brown, right, and I crewing for Elaine’s Miller team.

Theresa Brown and I crewed Elaine Larsen’s Decade of Thrills jet dragster with crew chief Brian Tocci. Before each pass, we must run through a checklist in order to prep the car and ensure its safety before every run. This includes packing parachutes, filling tires, inspecting all components of the car, and ensuring all materials needed at the starting line are in the truck. When it’s finally our time to race, we push the car out on the starting line, where Theresa cleans the tires with Brake Cleaner and I ensure that all tires have VHT, a liquid epoxy resin applied to the tires before each run to help the car stick to the track.

Brian starts the dragster and takes off in the truck down the drag strip. Theresa then puts Elaine on the starting line while I get some good footage of the action.

Standing in between two, 5000 horsepower jet dragsters is a feeling that I can’t even describe. Watching these dragsters take off up close, and race down the track successfully, brings a feeling of accomplishment and makes every minute worked at the shop completely worth it. Now we get to do it all over again and prep for the second run! Unfortunately, the second pass turned into a smoke and fire show because dew had settled on the drag strip, but it was still just as incredible. And to top it off, the whole team sat along the wall down the track and watched some amazing fireworks!

Theresa, Elaine, and I on the back of a humvee!

The best part of being on the Larsen Motorsports team is that the Larsens truly make us feel like we each have an important role on the team. They appreciate all of us and realize our potential. After the first pass at Atlanta Dragway, the team got to ride in the back of a couple humvees down the drag strip. The crowd was cheering us on as we rode by waving at them, and the recognition we all received felt so incredible.

 

This was definitely one of the best weekends of my summer and it’s all thanks to Chris and Elaine Larsen. I am proud to say that I am one of their interns and always look forward to the opportunities that I have at the jet shop. Keep reading the blog because I still have so much to tell you about race weekend here in Daytona!

For now, here’s a few more photos from the weekend!

 

 

The pit area

Embry-Riddle jet dragster

Miller Decade of Thrills jet dragster

Atlanta Dragway

New England Racing!

Working at the office or in the shop is one thing, but going to the track always puts everything into perspective for me. As an avid NASCAR fan my entire life, I have grown up with a love for racing, following the National Series week in and week out. Little did I know that I was missing a huge part of NASCAR that I knew hardly anything about: NASCAR Home Tracks. Working in the Weekly and Touring Department for the summer has introduced me to a part of NASCAR that I have come to love. I went to a few weekly races at Houston Motorsports Park growing up, but now, I have a whole new appreciation for grassroots racing.
As a Diversity Intern in this
department, I had the opportunity to travel to Connecticut with Lauren Wescoat, the manager of Weekly Racing Operations. We visited three different NASCAR Home Tracks in three days: Thompson Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway, and Waterford Speedbowl. Part of our job is to travel to our NASCAR Home Tracks and visit with the promoters, competitors, sponsors, and fans. This allows us the opportunity to show support for their race programs, keep current with industry practices, oversee sponsorship fulfillment, and to continuously find ways to improve our program. Not to mention, watch some exciting weekly racing! I was able to watch some incredible drivers well known in the New England area, who compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and who are former national and regional champions.

Thompson Speedway

Lauren Wescoat, manager of Weekly Racing Operations, and I at Stafford Motor Speedway.

I was also fortunate enough to catch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Waterford Speedbowl. I found it interesting to see how weekly events and touring events compare. I gained valuable insight to how each series is run, and even got to watch tech inspection up close after the touring race. The officials were happy to teach me about the inspection process, and as an engineering student, I definitely soaked it all in. After watching so much racing weekly racing, I can now say watching modifieds is a new favorite of mine.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Waterford Speedbowl

Autograph Session

One of the best parts about grassroots racing is seeing how passionate these drivers and teams are. All of the tracks we visited were about an hour apart. Most of these drivers race at all three tracks every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They truly make racing their livelihood, work on extremely tight budgets, and are the foundation of this sport.

Touring the Whelen Engineering Headquarters Facility

 

Aside from racing, a few highlights from the weekend included visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame, eating a lobster roll for the first time, and touring the Whelen Engineering Headquarters facility in Chester, Connecticut. Phil Kurze, VP of Whelen Engineering, shared with us the history of Whelen, current projects they are involved in, and gave us a tour of their entire Whelen Engineering facility.  It was incredible to see how they create their products with such precision, and how passionate the Whelen employees are about what they do. I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity and am looking forward to learning more about this side of the business. Regardless of where my education takes me, I know that I can find a local track to get involved at as I pursue my career in motorsports.

Basketball Hall of Fame

This summer has been packed with racing! I saw some incredible weekly racing in Connecticut, traveled to Atlanta Dragway with Larsen Motorsports this last weekend for the Night of Fire, will be going to the Independence Day race at New Smyrna this Wednesday, will be attending the Subway Firecracker 250 on Friday, and the Coke-Zero 400 on Saturday!  So watch out for some exciting race updates this next week! (: I hope you’re pumped because I know I am!!

 

Summer Fun

Well, I’ve already completed the first three weeks of my summer internship and haven’t said a single word about it. I guess I better fill you guys in on everything!

NASCAR Headquarters in Daytona

I am currently interning in Daytona Beach at the NASCAR building right across from Daytona International Speedway. It is nothing short of impressive. I work on the sixth floor as the Weekly and Touring Racing Operations Intern and I must say, the view from here is not shabby at all. As the Weekly and Touring Operations intern, I have the opportunity of working with NASCAR Home Tracks, which is the grassroots of racing. I get to work with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the Euro Racecar Series, the Canadian Tire Series, the Toyota Series, the Whelen Southern Modified Series, the Whelen Modified Series, the K&N Pro East Series, and the K&N Pro West Series. As of right now, I have only worked with the Whelen All-American Series, the series where drivers race at the same local tracks weekly, but am hoping I get to learn a little more about the touring series soon.

The view from work

As a lifelong NASCAR fan, my knowledge of NASCAR has only been limited to the top three series: the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup Series. I am so glad that I have been given the chance to work with grassroots racing. I knew nothing about these 8 series, and now, this is the perfect time for me to expand my knowledge and become more well-rounded in the sport. It’s only been three weeks and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned.

A few projects that I have worked on include: the NASCAR: An American Salute project, the NASCAR Green Tree Planting Program, a Spec Engine project, and Track Recruiting. If you have been watching any NASCAR races the last few weeks, you may have seen commercials for the American Salute platform. From Memorial Day Weekend to Independence Day, NASCAR is uniting to honor our military men and women. NASCAR is partnering with A Million Thanks to reach one million salutes to our military by writing personalized letters and dropping them at boxes that have been sent to tracks nationwide, and by using the hash tag #NASCARSalutes on Instagram and Twitter. I have been reaching out to all of the local weekly tracks across the country, encouraging them to take part in it, and creating a recap of all of the special military events these tracks are hosting.

Writing letters to our military

NASCAR is also partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to donate 90 trees to five weekly tracks, who will then choose a beneficiary locally to donate these trees to. NASCAR Green’s goal is to “neutralize carbon emissions of all NASCAR national series racing in 2013. I am currently in the process of collecting information from these tracks so that I can help move the program forward.

My supervisor gave me a Spec Engine project to work on because it directly applies to my technical knowledge and will give me an opportunity to learn more about engines. I have organized a list of parts needed to build this spec engine and have created a binder full of this information. I knew nothing about engines, but after looking up each part, organizing, and printing specs, I now have a better understanding of engine components.
Track recruiting has also been a huge part in my internship. NASCAR is always looking to sanction more local tracks; this requires gathering information from the hundreds of tracks across the country, working on packets of info that can be sent to them, and coming up with ways to improve upon the NASCAR program.

My new reading material (:

I guess that would be a short summary of what I’m working on. If I told you every single detail, we may be here for awhile.  What is my favorite part of my internship so far? I absolutely love talking to everyone in my department and constantly learn about what they do, and how all of these series work. One of my supervisors has drag and stock racing experience, so he is familiar with the technical side of the sport: the part of the sport I am dying to learn about. He constantly challenges me and tests my knowledge about stock cars. I guess I didn’t realize how little I really know…This has made me even more determined to continue learning and to make the extra effort. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to always read and always make the effort to learn something new. I try to take at least 30 minutes of my day to do some research online or read my new racing magazines. I absolutely love it.
Learning about the business side of NASCAR has definitely been eye-opening for me. I think so much more highly of the sport after gaining this insight the last few weeks. Next week I will be traveling to Connecticut to attend a weekly race, touring race, and take a tour of the Whelen facility. Going to the track will definitely put what I have been doing at the office into perspective and make it all come together. I know working my first drag race with Larsen Motorsports did just that for me. I could go on all day so I better stop now! I have so much more to tell you guys but I’ll make you wait and save it for later. :D

Race Day

Being at the race track has to be one of my favorite feelings in the world. I love the anticipation leading up to the drop of the green flag. I love watching the crews move a million miles a minute prepping the car and making last minute adjustments. I love the passion that all of the people at the track have for what they do. I love seeing all of the hard work come together. I just love racing.

Let’s just say that Saturday spent at the All-Star race was my favorite. Actually, that whole day was pretty amazing. We started off the day taking a tour of NASCAR Media Group. This tour was definitely something you don’t get to see every day. We were able to see where all of the video/sound editing takes place, the sets for NASCAR TV shows, Digital Media offices, the radio studio, and so much more. Here’s a few pics:

NASCAR office in Charlotte, NC

Social Media Analysis

Next, we went next door to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where we were given a tour by NASCAR Historian Buz McKim. I thought it was really interesting to hear all the cooky stories no one gets to hear about the history of NASCAR. I know that I’m definitely going to have to go back because a few hours in that place was definitely not enough.

Pit Stop challenge

Outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame

After a delicious lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, we were back at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It started to rain, but I wasn’t going to let that bring my umbrella-less self down. We snapped a quick picture in victory lane. Here are the 2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns:

2013 NASCAR Diversity Interns

Guess where we headed next? The Drivers Meeting! Yupp, that’s right. Definitely one of my favorite parts of this whole experience. It’s crazy standing only a few feet away from world famous drivers, crew chiefs, owners, and NASCAR executives. How many people can actually say that they got to attend a drivers meeting before a race? I thought it was interesting to see what takes place here: Rob Pemberton goes up and gives his spiel, and then they play a video explaining the rules. This is also where I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson (an ERAU grad). Even though it was only for a quick minute, it was definitely exciting to finally meet my favorite driver!

Robin Pemberton – VP of Competition

Got to meet Jeff Gordon and Crew Chief Alan Gustafson

Dale Jr.

The Driver Intros for the Sprint Showdown would soon follow, as well as the Sprint Showdown. We watched this race on pit road, anxiously awaiting the All-Star Race Intros. Being at the All-Star Driver Intros was definitely a site to see. We were right in the middle of it, watching the crews roll their cars right by us as they introduced each driver for the race. Then, before we knew it, the race was about to start. We headed to our seats and waited out the rain delay. But in the end, every second of waiting was all worth it. It was nice to see Jimmie Johnson bring home the checkered flag and finally get some rest after an unforgettable weekend.

Pit Road before the race

All-Star Driver Intros

Saturday Night Racing in Charlotte!

This experience has completely opened my eyes to all of the opportunities that this sport has to offer. Believe it or not, NASCAR truly has something for everyone. Going to this race put everything into perspective for me. Throughout the weekend, I constantly made an effort to picture where I would fit in there. I’m still learning more about myself and about what I truly love. It’s so important to dive headfirst into any opportunity you get because that is when you will learn the most about yourself.

Embrace those moments. You may be surprised at your potential.

All-Star Weekend

Just when I think everything is going great, it gets even better! The opportunities seem never-ending and I have more blessings than I can count every single day. Attending All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this past weekend was one of them. This officially kicked of the start of my summer internship with NASCAR. As an intern, my orientation includes a mandatory, all expense paid trip to the All-Star Race weekend in North Carolina! (Tough life, right?) This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly operations that make each NASCAR race possible. I’m sure it’s obvious that it takes a lot of people to ensure a successful NASCAR weekend, but to actually speak with professionals who work in the sport has given me a completely different perspective. As if I didn’t love NASCAR enough already, I’ve definitely walked away from this experience with an even greater appreciation of this extraordinary sport. Now I’ve got to catch you up on this crazy weekend! Where to start…
 
The internship I have secured for the summer is through the NASCAR Diversity program. The purpose of the program is to create more diversity in the NASCAR industry and provide opportunities for minorities in the sport. All of the interns arrived in Charlotte on Thursday. Kristian, the Account Executive for Diversity Affairs in NASCAR, organized this trip for all of the interns. Thursday consisted of a social event where we could all meet each other and have some fun.
 
That evening, we headed to Downtown Charlotte for some bowling and pizza. Let me tell you, Charlotte is absolutely beautiful. I know it’s somewhere I want to live when I get older. It’s the perfect combination of city and country life. All of the interns in this program are pretty incredible, as well. They come from some amazing backgrounds and have already accomplished so much throughout their college careers. This orientation experience bonded us quickly and gave us an opportunity to learn from each other.

Walking through Downtown Charlotte

Intern outing at Strike-City Bowling

Friday was the first long and tiring day. Schedule for the day: breakfast, NASCAR R&D center, guest speakers, lunch, Revolution Racing tour, Roush Fenway Shop tour, dinner, guest speakers, driver intros, and the truck race. Whew! What didn’t we get to do?! A day full of NASCAR was the perfect way to spend my birthday. The NASCAR R&D center was unveiled in 2003; this center is used for safety initiatives, to enhance competition, and to perform weekly inspections. We were able to tour this facility and learn in detail about what takes place on a weekly basis.

NASCAR R&D Center

R&D 2

Throughout our orientation events, we had the opportunity to listen to several previous interns and professionals who work in the industry. They gave us valuable advice to help us make the most of our internship experience, as well as our future careers with NASCAR, or anywhere else for that matter. One piece of advice that I came away from this weekend: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Hard work will take you places, but the key to moving up in this industry is all about who you know. It’s really not a bad idea to network anywhere you go. Throughout this internship I will make an extra effort to work with other departments and become familiar with their operations and the people that make them up. Talking to professionals also gave me a glimpse of the inside operations that make the sport go. I never realized all of the positions and jobs involved in the sport; NASCAR truly does think of everything.

Next stop: Revolution Racing. Rev Racing manages NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. This is an outreach program looking to get minorities, including women, involved in racing. I love the efforts of the Drive for Diversity program because as a Hispanic female engineer, it would be great to see changes in the number of women and minorities involved in the sport.

The interns visiting Rev Racing

Before heading to the race track, we headed over to the Roush Fenway Shop for a tour. We were able to check out some of the cars that will be used at the Charlotte race this weekend, as well as where the cars are maintained.

Roush-Fenway Shop

All of the interns made my birthday extra special. It was my first birthday away from my family but it was definitely an unforgettable day. They all signed a cute Cinderella card for me and I even got a birthday sundae at dinner! Yum!

Such an incredible birthday

Now off to Charlotte Motor Speedway!

Livin’ it up at the racetrack!

As soon as we arrived at the race track, we were put right in the middle of the excitement. Crews were pushing their trucks on to pit road and camera men were running around trying to catch all of the action. At this moment, I stood in awe of what happening around me and did my best to soak in as much as I could. Here are a few pics of what I saw:

Truck Series Garage

Pit Road

Driver intros came next! We were directly in front of the stage on the race track. Pretty exciting stuff, I must say.

Driver Intros

Met driver Ty Dillon

The interns with Drive for Diversity driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.

And then the race started! We got to watch the race from pit road, where we were up close to the crews and watched them make all their pit stops. It’s one thing to watch it on TV, but to see it up close in person is a whole other experience in itself.

Just when you think it’s over, it’s not. It gets better. Next stop: VICTORY LANE! After the race, we were able to watch Kyle Busch climb out of his truck in victory lane. Couldn’t think of a better way to end the night.

Victory Lane

Can you believe that all of this happened in one day? I’ve seen a completely different side of NASCAR all within 24 hours. This experience was completely life changing and I’ve only shared with you up to Day 2. Stay tuned for the Day 3 – the All-Star Race update. I have seen so much more and can’t wait to share it with you so that you can get excited too! This could be you one day: maybe not working with NASCAR, but getting a taste of your dream. This is only the beginning of an amazing summer. I’m officially livin’ the dream.

The Real World

I board my flight to San Francisco. Just a couple more days until Washington State!
I decided to spend a few days with my family since I won’t be seeing them all summer. My days are spent shopping for business clothes and catching up with everyone. That same Sunday, I say goodbye to my family and dog Bentley, and leave on an 11-hour road trip with my dad on my little two-seater Smart Car (if you haven’t seen them…well they’re smaller than a Fiat!).

Me and Bentley

Within just a couple of hours, I’m amazed at how quickly the scenery changes as you drive north. This is definitely nothing like Florida! Mountains everywhere, the grass goes from a dry mustard color to the evergreen landscape the Northwest is known for. We trek what’s left of California, and venture into Oregon, where we stop for the night in a small town. Bright and early next morning, we make the final stretch to Washington State!

We’re not in Florida anymore!

At this point, I’m getting nervous. I’ve never really been out by myself. Even at ERAU, I know I always have people there for me, whether it’s friends or faculty. But now I’m out in the real world.

Home of the 777, 747, 787 and the Dreamlifter

But at last, we make it to Everett, home of the 777s, 747s and 787s. My dad and I decided to take a little tour of the Boeing factory. I wish I had pictures…but Boeing is very strict on their no photography policy. After all, wouldn’t want Airbus stealing the designs! ;) Anywho, we made our way into the Fantasy of Flight center, where the tours begin. We then saw a short video on the history of The Boeing Company, and we were escorted into the factory. From the observation deck, you could see the assembly line. Apparently, Boeing is popping out one of these beauties every few days! And down at the Renton factory, 38 new 737s make their way out the hangar doors every month. The Dreamlifter is sitting on the runway, along all the other aircraft awaiting delivery. I couldn’t believe that in a few days, I would become part of this family!

Fantasy of Flight

We’re here!

That Friday, my first official day, all of the interns and new hires made their way into the Seattle facility for orientation, where we got our badges (!!) and were schooled into the ethics, cultures, and everything Boeing. We had a few tours here and there, but Monday was when the true adventure started!

That same day, I got an email from my manager giving me my reporting instructions, and information on my lead engineer. It turns out he is an ERAU graduate from the Daytona Campus! Instant connection, I tell you. It’s great to see fellow Eagles out in the industry working where you want to end up some day. Repping the blue and gold, I tell ya! But to hear about what’s been going on since…you will have to wait until next time!

Boeing here I come!

Hey everybody! Remember me? Well it’s been quite a long time since I last wrote a blog. When I first started doing this, I was just starting out at Embry-Riddle. Now I’m a senior!! Can’t believe how fast the time goes by when you’re working towards your passion in life.

Boeing here I come!

Not much has changed in my life. I’m still an Aerospace Engineering major with a concentration in astronautics. Except this summer, I’m here in Washington State at an internship with The Boeing Company!

Now, before I start saying anything about my job, I would just like to say one thing: you don’t know the power a good university like Embry-Riddle carries until you get out in the industry. You see, I didn’t get my internship through Embry-Riddle (although our Career Services Office does an AMAZING job at getting students jobs/internships!!). Last year, in October, I went to a Hispanics in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) conference in Orlando called HENAAC. For those of you who have previously read my blog…yes it was at Disney. Anywho, this is a huge conference where big named companies go and celebrate diversity in the field. And by big names, I mean people like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Chevron. Did I mention this isn’t an aviation conference? Yeah, great shot for us aviation geeks at getting a job ;)

On the first day of the conference, the main sponsors held hospitality suites with food (lots of it!) and recruiters and managers (hiring people!). I was one of the first ones lined up to go talk to a recruiter I had met earlier. I handed him my my resume, he looked it over, and referred me to a manager that had literally just walked in. Mind you I was standing next to students from other really good Universities like MIT, GTech, Purdue. However, when that manager saw the ERAU name on my resume, he just looked at me and said “OH! Embry-Riddle! Very good school!” I was surprised, honestly! Our University has a huge name and a very good reputation in the industry. I found out Boeing hires hundreds of ERAU students every year as interns (don’t quote me exactly on that number). To put that into perspective, here in Washington/Puget Sound area, there are around 1,040 interns total this summer. And my lead engineer is a Riddle grad too! We do stake our claim here!
Anyways, that same night of the hospitality suite, the manager called me back (mind you it was like 10 pm…). He asked me to come back to the suite. I was so nervous! What was he going to tell me? Good job, but you’re just not what we’re looking for? Nope! He wanted me to set up an interview!

So a few days later, on a Saturday, I waltzed into the career fair with an interview already set up. I had such mixed feelings about it. It was a combination of anxiety, excitement, nervousness…well everything. And when I get anxious, I tend to talk a lot. Needless to say this carried on in the interview…I felt like I was talking way too much and that I was rambling on! I was so scared at the end of the interview that I had just bored them to death. I used every tip that Career Services had provided for me, but I just wasn’t sure how well I did!
Then, the wait began. On October 26th (yes I remember the date!), I opened my email. “Boeing Global Staffing”. Huh? I opened it. My phone began to ring. Should I wait and see the email? Who could be calling me? I answered the phone. “Hello, is this Adriana?” “Uh…yes…who is this?” “Hi, this is Cynthia calling from Boeing. Have you checked your email today? We would like you extend to you an offer for an internship for the Summer 2013. You have to reply within 48 hours on your decision. The instructions are in your email.” “UH! YES! I’ll do that right away! Thank you!”
Needless to say, I accepted right after I hung up. That was 7 months ago, exactly. Today, I’m sitting here on May 26 in my apartment. I started about a week ago (May 17th). But I think that’s a story for next time…

The Boeing Company, Washington state

 

Welcome Back!

Welcome back, readers!

I apologize for not writing in a while.  Before I knew it, the semester ramped up and I was swamped (happily) with activities and studying.

This semester I am serving on the executive board for two different organizations.  I am the Parliamentarian for ERRSA (I handle the constitution, bylaws, and order of the meetings), and I am the News Editor for the Avion Newspaper.  These positions are both exciting for me because I am very passionate about both!  There will be more details to come in later journal entries…

For classes, I am moving on with my physics and calculus classes, but I’m taking on a lot of new stuff as well.  Last semester I took EGR120, the class for drafting and CAD, but this semester I am taking EGR115 and learning another fundamental skill: programming in MATLAB.  Although it is a lot of work, programming is actually really fun.

My favorite class this semester, however, is Survey of Meteorology.  I was so excited to be able to start working on my minor in meteorology this semester and I have completely fallen in love with the subject.  Surprisingly, my weather textbook is the first textbook that I can sit down and read cover-to-cover and actually enjoy.

My professors this semester are really cool, especially my PS160 (Physics 2) professor Dr. Sanders.  He uses a lot of demonstrations to teach the information, which is good because, unlike in PS150, which was mostly kinematics and motion equations, PS160 covers topics that are not as easy to visualize, like fluid motion and waves.

Another cool class that I am taking this semester is Technical Report Writing.  I like writing, and although it takes a lot of work to churn out a technical report, we are getting to research topics of our choice, such as mechanical exoskeletons and cloning, which makes for really interesting research.

Over winter break I started applying to more internship opportunities, and I even got an interview with a local company.  I haven’t heard anything yet, but even if I don’t get the position I am glad that I’ve had the experience of going through a real interview.

In my next entries, I will be updating you on all the fun and exciting things I have been doing in my extracurricular activities.  Stay tuned!