Hunting Aliens in California

Greetings, Earthlings!

First off, I apologize for being so tardy on this entry. I’ll try to be more timely for the rest of the summer. Anyways…

10460212_10152259266303719_86456628812285147_nI am writing to you from sunny Mountain View, California, home of the SETI Institute! For those of you who aren’t familiar, SETI is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a.k.a. professional alien hunters. You may think that that sounds like science fiction, but they are a legitimate research institution doing real science, which covers topics including geology, astronomy, biology, and everything in between. And it’s the coolest place ever! Mountain View is basically paradise on Earth – sunny every day (we were told not to expect rain all summer), temperatures in the low-60s in the morning when I leave for work with daily highs in the mid-70s, and NO FLORIDA HUMIDITY.

California is a neat place, with a lot of differences that I’m still getting used to. One of the first things I learned about the Bay Area is that grocery bags cost money – you have to bring your reusable bags or specifically ask to buy paper bags. I was very confused on my first grocery run when the cashier just piled my $60 worth of groceries at the end of the counter and then asked me if I needed a bag. I certainly wasn’t going to carry them all in my arms!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

The thing I like most about this area is just the environment and culture. You walk through downtown Mountain View, and it’s all family-owned restaurants (lots of different ethnic cuisines), used book shops, bike stores, and small cafes with people sitting outside on their laptops. It’s gorgeous and feels totally safe and welcoming. Plus being in Silicon Valley, I get to drive past places like Microsoft, Google, etc., which is way cool. Not only that, but there are like four or five performing arts centers in the area – hate to bash Daytona, but it is certainly lacking in that regard! Another great thing is that you can get anywhere via public transit – which is certainly comforting, considering my car is currently parked 3,000 miles away. I’d never ridden a train before, so it was a new adventure for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also very bike friendly here; I bike to and from work every day: 2.5 miles each way. And the weather’s perfect for it – especially first thing in the morning. In California, bikes are considered cars, so I bike on the roads, stop at stop lights, and use turn signals (and here everybody thought learning those hand motions in drivers’ ed was a waste of time!) It’s kinda scary to be in the road with the cars, but it’s also really neat.

Oh, and I forgot to mention… I may not be working at NASA this year, but I do live at NASA. We are all provided housing in dorms on site at NASA Ames. So hey, that’s pretty cool. SETI and Ames work very closely, in fact most of the SETI scientists also work at NASA.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

My first week as a SETI intern was filled with presentations and lectures on all topics of SETI science. It was very cool to hear about all the different things going on here, and to meet science celebrities like Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Frank Drake. If you don’t know who they are, you should. The office itself is a lot like a university, minus the classrooms and students. Lots of offices with research posters covering all the walls, scientists walking around in attire ranging from those dressed more professionally to the ones in shorts and sandals, and free coffee all day in the break room. The thing I like most about this program versus an internship at a big, corporate company is just how chill it is. We dictate our own work hours (to an extent; you still have to work them out with your research mentor), wear whatever we feel like (though I’ve been trying to be a bit above my usual t-shirt and jeans fashion), and everybody is just really cool and friendly. It’s a great environment.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

The scientist I’m working with this summer is Dr. Uma Gorti, and my project involves modeling the dissipation of protoplanetary disks, which is the astronomical phenomenon that forms planets. Basically what we’re investigating is how fast these disks are going away, and whether or not planets will form before they do that. So not directly hunting aliens but definitely still applicable – the aliens need planets to live on, y’know. I’m very glad I was selected for this project because it’s actually really similar to my work back at ERAU. These disks act a lot like our atmosphere as far as the fluids physics is concerned, and it will be great to have had the modeling practice when I begin working on the model for my thesis in the fall!

I’m also really excited because there’s a good chance I’ll get to present my research at a conference this year, and maybe even get a paper published depending on what kind of results we get. So crossing my fingers for that…!

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The first couple weeks here have been jam-packed with fun. In addition to the lectures and beginning our projects, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to explore the area. On our first Saturday, we all went up to San Francisco to see some of the big tourist attractions: Lombard Street, China Town, and the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and I’m sure we’ll be up there again because there’s so much to see and do. And it doesn’t feel icky or scary like some big cities do. Plus it’s just a $7 train-ride away from Mountain View!

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail.

On Sunday a large group of us went to the Stanford Dish Trail for a hike. Well, sort of a hike – it was a paved road, but very hilly nonetheless. That’s another neat thing about California: there’s so much elevation, not to mention the mountains! Mountain View is very aptly named, because you literally see them in every direction. Florida is flat as a pancake. Which is good in its own way, but the scenery here just can’t be beat. But I digress. Anyways, this trail was really cool because it went past some of Stanford’s radio dishes, and from the top you get a fantastic view of the whole Valley and could even see San Francisco in the distance. It was also really cool to hike because in the biography of Sally Ride that I’m reading there’s a picture of her running that same trail. There’s just something neat about having been to the same places as such awesome, famous people.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

Our second week of work was split by a company outing on Wednesday to see the San Francisco Giants play the San Diego Padres. For those of you who aren’t very sports savvy (like me), that’s baseball. And we totally kicked their butts – it was a no-hitter! Which means that the other team never even made it to first base. Ha. It was a lot of fun to hang out together, get the day off of work, and spend it in downtown San Francisco. The stadium was right on the bay, so we could see huge ships out in the water, which was way cool.

IMG_7017

“Make your meanest Kahl Drogo face.”

For the second Saturday, a handful of us went up to Oakland to volunteer for the Evolution Expo: a SciFi/science convention in its first year. And boy was that cool. I spent the day working at the photo booth, where fans would pay to stand next to celebrities and have their picture taken. Well, let’s just say the expo wasn’t very well attended, so we ended up spending a lot of time just chatting with the actors and astronauts, and taking some silly photos of our own. Some of the big names I got to meet are Jason Momoa (Kahl Drogo from Game of Thrones), John Rhys-Davies (well-known for Gimli in Lord of the Rings, but I knew him as the professor from Sliders), Tim Russ and Garret Wang (both from Star Trek Voyager), and Amanda Tapping (from Stargate, which I’ve never watched, but I just want to note that she was such a cool person!) They were all really cool. It’s funny to see actors as people and not as their characters. Amidst the actors we also got to chat with astronauts Joe Edwards and Wendy Lawrence. All in all it was a really cool experience, and I’m very glad I woke up at 5 am to do it.

The Sunday after the expo we all packed up into two big vans and headed up to Hat Creek Observatory and Lassen National Park, but I’m going to save that adventure for my next entry… :)

Until next time!

-Lynsey

Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

National Mall

Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

IMG_2470 (2)

Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

California’s Got Board Meetings.. Lots of Board Meetings

Hello Again! Thank you for coming back to listen to me ramble. This week I continued to work on the splash page for the military training website. At the beginning of this project, I was designing the website using very low fidelity mock-ups. And by low fidelity mock-ups, I mean drawing some pictures of a website on a sheet of paper or toilet paper or Kleenex. I did pretty well; my advisor said my drawings could pass for an advanced 8 year old, so I moved on to creating a more high fidelity mock-up. For people who claim to design websites, but don’t have the knowledge or talent to carry it out, there is a program called Axure RP (rapid prototyping). This is a very simple, intuitive program that allows people to show a website design without writing the code for it. You can also create links for other pages within the site and can “preview” how the entire website would work for the user. So, I’m very happy to have this skill because now I won’t get picked last for teams in my classes anymore!

My next project looked into designing a system for planning missions on aquatic vehicles. The systems used to do this are mostly paper-based. So, the branch I work for is giving the government an upgrade. It’s very deep work. HA! Get it? Deep, you know like deep water? Alright I’ll stop.

This Tuesday was my advisor’s last day at work for three weeks. She is taking time off to go on vacation in her hometown back in Colorado. So, she gave me a list of tasks to get done before she comes back. Oh! And she calls me a smurf, too. It’s probably because I’m shorter than the average 7th grader. I was also approached recently by a friend of a friend who said, “You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket!” Do you have any idea how scary it is for a stranger to tell you they want to take you and put you in a pocket? I’m getting off task, here.

On Tuesday, my boss invited me to participate in this event called CX SIG (Customer Experience Special Interest Group). There is an intern at my branch who is actually a graduate student in the Human Factors program at Embry-Riddle, so I invited her to come along. At this Customer Experience event, Human Factors specialists from all over San Diego come together for 1 night each month and evaluate an interface or product from a company. At this particular event, we evaluated the website for a company called “Personal Creations.” This is similar to the “Things Remembered” company, in that it allows customers to order products that can be personally customized before delivery. At this meeting I was instructed to act like someone who was trying to make an order and criticize any part of the website that needed fixing. At first, it is kind of weird to tell the programmers and representatives of the company how horrible their website looked, but as I continued, the arrogance in me began to bloom. Ha! Just kidding my arrogance was there all along.

After this event my boss and a few of my co-workers went to dinner at an Italian restaurant close-by. When we sat down, a friend of my boss and one of the participants of the CX SIG event decided to join us. I found out that he is actually an author of a very successful book used in the Human Factors world that I have been looking through over the past few weeks. He was also featured on NPR (National Public Radio)…a dream for most people! As we were heading out, he gave me and my co-workers his card and offered his help and advisement if we ever needed it. On the way back, I had to drive with my friend, Christian, because his apartment is across the street from mine. Since he brought his motorcycle, I had to hop on the back. Oh! And it was my FIRST TIME riding one!! We were about half an hour away from our apartments and took a highway almost the entire way home. I actually wasn’t scared for having the ground go below my feet at 70 mph. Now I have the itch to get a motorcycle, though. Which is a very expensive itch.

There were some other firsts this week in California. I also got my first Jack in the Box food. Oh boy Florida needs to get one of those. Although, I don’t know if my 5’2” frame can handle another 100 pounds. My other first happened on Saturday, when I attempted to paddleboard and surf. I met with some of the interns at SPAWAR who were trying to make friends while here for the next few months. We rented paddleboards and took them to this large bay where a lot of sailboats were kept. I didn’t fall! I can’t say the same for the people I went with. We also rented surfboards and took turns holding them in the water on the Pacific side of the peninsula. I say holding because that’s all we could do successfully (and unsuccessfully a few times). On the ocean, the water was choppy, and the waves were huge. I could not even stand without one side of the board sinking into the water. So the next time I go, I’ll start off in a puddle.

*Drools

*Drools

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

It was a really long day, and I had to get some food to wash down all of the seawater. I ate half a chicken at a restaurant called Phil’s BBQ. HALF A CHICKEN!! I’m well on my way to winning a food eating contest. On Saturday, I went with my co-workers and a few other friends to a fair by the closest shoreline called Ocean Beach. I got to ride a motorcycle again to get there! The main street had vendors of all kinds lined up and bands playing blues and rock. There were rides and carnival games at the end of the street set-up for children, but my friend decided they were there for everyone. It was fun watching him fall, but overall I enjoyed seeing the different things for sale. I brought a funnel cake.. and ate all of it! Stay tuned next week when I gain 14 pounds.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

The Summer of Delta: Part 2

Delta 767-400 in Atlanta.My internship at Delta Air Lines this summer has been quite the adventurous one.  Besides a very busy work schedule, I have already touched the east and west coasts, mainland Europe including Belgium and The Netherlands, as well as many interior states.  My trip to Brussels was quite the ever-changing one as I had to take the train to Amsterdam and catch a Boeing 777 ride home to the United States.  Keeping up with the rest of the aviation geeks here, being able to spot some gorgeous airline heavy metal is a regular occurrence at the world’s busiest airport.  The cell phone lot at ATL gives you the opportunity to take some great pictures, like the one above of a company Boeing 767-400, when we are using a west departure operation. Working at an airline is NEVER a boring job!

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

 

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Delta is a very dynamic place to be right now, especially since we seem to be the airline with the target on our backs.  Massive profits in recent times have set Delta apart from the rest of the industry, showing that massive growth and acquisition strategies have seemed to play out in the company’s favor. One of the biggest happenings at the company since I have been here was the recent opening of the Delta Flight Museum at the airline’s Atlanta General Offices location.  The event was well-covered on social media and news sites as well, so check it out for more information on how to see this great attraction.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

The internship has really opened my eyes to how complex an airline is.  Thousands of people are needed to get a flight off the ground, not just the six to twelve crewmembers that are in each airplane getting the passenger from point A to point B.  The typical view of an airline is one that comes from what folks see at an airport but it is really much, much more in depth.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Departments like mine (Network Planning) touch each flight at some point and build a schedule that has integrity and will be profitable, Revenue Mangement, aka ticket pricing, prices many levels of tickets with limitations depending on what days you might be traveling or how far in advance you might be purchasing your fare, Operations Control handles each flight enroute and solves any problems that might arise, and Finance provides the money needed to get each flight off the ground by financing airplanes and projects as well as daily operations.  The picture to the right shows my ride back to the US from Amsterdam, one of our Boeing 777s.  Partnerships like our one with KLM in AMS make our international operations much easier by sharing gates and ground equipment plus personnel. Hundreds of other specific departments and sectors are needed as well, really showing the complexity of the world’s greatest mode of transportation: Flight.

 

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators.

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators, including this Boeing 767.

Not only am I a business major, I also have my FAA Commercial Pilot’s Certificate and keep current in both multi-engine and single-engine airplanes.  One perk of being at Delta has been access to the full-motion flight simulators that our pilots use to train on their specific aircraft type.  We have at least one simulator or more in-house for every type that we fly except the Boeing 717 (Boeing owns those simulators).  I have been fortunate enough to fly the Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR sims as well as the Airbus A330.  I hope to fly the other types, stay tuned for more pictures!

I am excited to see where else my non-revenue travels will take me this summer and I will be sure to share more pictures and stories as they happen!

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

When Life Hands You Lemons.. Ignore Them and Make Fried Chicken

This week began with a rough start. While I stopped at a store, my bicycle was stolen. I was actually getting a new pair of sneakers so I could be more comfortable on my ride in to work. What a happy coincidence! I contacted everyone I could, asked around the neighborhood, and filed a report. So, with my fingers crossed, I will keep on keeping on. On the bright side, I work with some incredibly kind and giving people. My roommate, Sharelle, and a co-worker, Christian, have offered to give me a ride whenever I need. I  have been treated so kindly by everyone that I work with, and although I was not feeling the best about having my primary mode of transportation taken away, I was awfully happy and appreciative of everyone around me for their help. I never thought I would get a chance to work with such kind people!

Although I may have started the week in the wrong gear, I certainly wasn’t going to continue on without changing it up. So the next morning I went on a 2-hour cruise with my roommate and our friends. Working for the military has its perks, and apparently one of them is getting on boat tours for $7. It was fun going around the bay and main island. There were all kinds of military ships at dock and fighter jets skipping along the main island’s airport. After that, we got delicious fish tacos and walked around the beach area. California has pretty beaches, but the water is not as clean or warm as it is in Daytona. So, I’m Embry-Riddle homesick, but I’m sure I will be missing San Diego when I head home in 10 weeks.

On the boat tour of San Diego

An actual ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean Film

Want this job!

USS Midway

What a Life!

Titanic has forever ruined the view of ship captains

Monday morning, I got to work and immediately started working on my project to create Human Factors professional classes and workshops. My mentor will be in charge of presenting and organizing these events for other professionals at our company. The goal is to teach professionals in other fields the proper user and usability test methods. I also worked on making a final report about the research I did last week on visually impaired people using a company-wide website. I am so incredibly sleepy from writing the 11 pages it took for me to get my points across to the designers and programmers. But boy do I love bossing around engineers and telling them that they’re wrong! I had it finished just in time for the weekly meeting. My boss said that I have good time management skills. That poor lady knows nothing about me, either that or I am very talented at making things seem more incredible than they really are.

I stepped up for another project at work. This time, I will be working on designing a website for a training group. I will be doing something called wire-framing. This is a process of sketching out design ideas and continually changing them until you reach the final design which will be coded by the programmers. You start this process by drawing out the design using a pen and paper (or towel or toilet paper). You will need a more high fidelity wire-frame to accurately test with people. This can be designed on PowerPoint or other design software. For now I am taking the list of activities someone can do using this website and grouping them into a logical pattern. In user-centered design, people call that designing the information architecture.

At my workplace there’s something called the New Professional Program that allows newly graduated students to try different projects going on with the different branches at our company. It’s a great program because it allows the student going through it to explore the options in order to find work that they enjoy doing. This week I was assigned writing up the projects at my branch to make us sound, “young, hip, and cool.” Which would be a somewhat accurate feel for my branch, aside from the whole young part. Most of the people I work with are 50 years old and up, so a majority of time they are worrying about their hips going out or complaining that they are too cold. No, I’m just kidding. But not really because they are very old. That gives me an advantage, though. If I can take in all of their advice and experiences, it will help me greatly in my career one day. Always take hand-me-down wisdom!

On Thursday, I learned how to shoot a gun… or 6. Since this week was only 4 days long for me, I went out with a few friends to a shooting range for my first time shooting a gun. I am not a huge fan, but I had to try it once just to say I tried it. It was very cool, but I had horrible aim and have the arm strength of a fetus. So, the shooting range was an unsuccessful success… if that makes any sense. And I realized it’s about time I start working out. So keeping to this thought, I went out with those same friends and ate half a pizza. The next few days were used catching up on a few Riddle-based projects.. and by Riddle-based projects, what I really mean is sleep. Sleep was greatly needed.

I think I look cool!

I ended this week at the Corvette Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant. I had a root beer milkshake with fried chicken (oh I miss the South) and watched the waitresses shamefully dance with their co-workers. I was appalled and felt slightly uncomfortable as our waitress came up to our table and started spinning my hair around in a twist. I began to growl at her little when she started putting straws in my hair to keep the twist in place. Thankfully, my roommate, Sharelle, who had joined me said that was part of the “act” at that restaurant. I ignored Sharelle the first few times she said it was ok, but she got my attention when she sprayed water in my face and yelled, “Bad Carolyn!” My hair did look pretty lovely. I will definitely be coming back so that she can style my hair with straws for my wedding.

Milkshakes

A bow-tie out of straws!

Keep coming by!

Fun at Work

I did not want to go to work this week. I was having so much fun this weekend. I had kayaked across the San Diego Bay (and by across I mean about 30 feet). It goes right alongside the airport so I was secretly being a Riddle geek staring at planes when I should have been paddling. It’s ok I only got yelled at twice. I had gone with my roommate Laura, her brother, and a friend. Afterwards, we were so hungry we went to a restaurant downtown and I had a giant burrito, even though I really wanted the chicken and waffles. That night, as I was still eating the burrito, I watched some reruns of The Nanny. Don’t make fun of me, you all love that show you just don’t know it yet. And Fran Drescher has the voice of an angel.

I don't even have a paddle in my hand. What a surprise!

I want it I want it!!

Not paying attention

On Monday I went to lunch with a co-worker who gave me a lot of information on the benefits of working for the government. He talked about how being an employee at our company funded the education for his higher-level degrees. This was good to hear in the hopes that this company invites me back for another internship or possibly a job. I also applied for graduation this past week! Since I got an internship, I get 6 credits knocked off of my requirement to graduate. That means I will be graduating an entire semester early! Guess I’ll have to start practicing walking across a stage. No I won’t actually do that, if people saw me they would recommend me to a psychiatrist.

For my current projects here, I have been tasked with some pretty unique projects. I have been researching control interfaces for operating unmanned vehicles. I was also tasked with creating a set of classes and workshops for human factors instruction. These will be courses given to people working for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) on how to make designs user-friendly and how to do user/usability testing. I used a lot of material from those expensive books I bought for my classes. So, they may come in handy for at least one other short period of your life.

Later in the week, I was tasked with doing research with the employees at SPAWAR who are completely blind. I asked them to do a “think-out-loud protocol” while they used a screen reader to navigate through a website. Human Factors researchers use this method to “see” what is going on inside the head of a participant (without opening it up). We ask a participant to say what they are doing, thinking, or feeling while they perform a task. For this particular study the participants were using software called a screen reader that reads everything shown on a webpage to them as they navigate through it. Imagine navigating through a website with a blindfold over your eyes based on how someone is describing it to you. That’s what the participants were doing as we tested. And they did awesome because they use that program for every task they do for their job. I finished that day feeling like a lazy employee compared to these guys.

Within SPAWAR, my division decided to promote the awesome people that work here. So they decided to get the branches from our division and film a couple of clips of the people in each branch dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell. My boss brought in embarrassing clothes and accessories and laid it all across the table. Since I am about 3 weeks old here, still very timid, and trying to make a good impression, I did the only logical thing I could think of for that situation. I picked up a princess tiara and pink sunglasses out of the pile of accessories put them on the 50 year old guy standing next to me, and somehow convinced him to let me be the leading man in a swing dance. We danced better than everyone else, except I was too short to spin him around.

On the subject of dance, I also signed up for some classes. A few weeks ago I signed up to do a beginner’s adult ballet class. I remember enjoying it as a kid, but I got pushed up to an advanced class too early and did not understand any of the French these crazy teachers were speaking. I could remember looking at the other girls’ feet on the night of the recital. So, I decided to have another go at it in the hopes that my chicken arms get some tone. In reality chickens probably have much more upper body strength than me. Anyways, I did my first class and surprisingly remembered a few words and positions. There were a few girls around my age, but most of the women were older.

As part of giving interns out-of-work learning experience, every Thursday SPAWAR hosts a technical seminar in a variety of areas. This week was advanced photonics and the potential uses for this area of study. Another speaker brought in Google Glasses and showed some of the cool functions of it. As part of the Human Factors GEARS Lab, I was the only student in this group who had even seen Google Glass in person. In case you were wondering, yes, I felt special. The same speaker talked about some cool apps available that can turn a sheet of paper into a 3-D image, or overlay a digital image to a 6-sided block. If you have a smart phone, download Elements 4D by DAQRI or Enchantium. They both are cool augmented reality apps for your phone!

On Friday night I learned how to play poker. I had played Texas Hold ‘Em before, but forgot everything I learned. My roommate, Sharelle invited me to her friends house where there were two very large tables set up. I actually received tremendous help from the gentlemen at my table. Two of them would look at my cards and tell me what to bet, when to stay in, and when to give the other guy dirty looks. I bought in for $10, and walked out of that joint with a whopping $7 more. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Not bad for a first-time-in-a-really-long-time-er. At that point I had decided that there is no way I will make more than $7 and decided to cash out and go to another friend’s house. Once we got there, we busted out the Wii and played Mario Kart. Sleepy and delusional I crashed into every wall in the game and came in 7th place at best. My gaming ability was really top-notch that day.

Rolling in the chips

Summer Life – Delta Air Lines Internship

 

Delta World Headquarters

Hey all!  I hope everyone is having a great summer as we fly into the month of June.  My month of May was quite eventful; I wrapped up finals at the beginning of the month and then headed up to start my summer internship at Delta on May 12th.  I’m working with the great folks in the Network Planning department where a large group of individuals plan where and how we are going to fly all of the routes that are out for sale to the public.  The process isn’t as easy as saying you’re flying from point A to B at this time, it is a very choreographed process with tons of steps between deciding when and where to fly and how they are actually going to do it.

Sabre AirVision is the software that we use in Network Planning to schedule all of the flights that Delta operates.
Sabre AirVision is the software that we use in Network Planning to schedule all of the flights that Delta operates.

My internship started off very quickly as I quickly became acclimated with our scheduling software, Sabre AirVision.  The product is very easy to use and not only contains the flight schedule that we are working with, but it also generates reports on things such as flights that may have the same number as another (duplicates, which you cannot have on the same day) and hours that airplane types and crews will fly (we only have so many airplanes and pilots and crews are restricted by the FAA on how many hours they can fly in a day).  I cannot imagine scheduling flights without a product such as this one.

Network PlanningPutting together the schedule is quite a challenge because of dozens of things that the normal traveler doesn’t see.  Things such as performing overnight maintenance on our fleet and keeping the number of flights coming into and out of a hub within max limitations is a very hard task due to the number of flights that we are trying to fly in a day.  The Delta system is based around a hub-and-spoke style layout and every hub has special characteristics that the folks in Network Planning have to keep in mind.  No one flying on an airline likes delayed or cancelled flights and it is our job to make sure that every flight gets off the ground as planned, on-time through major planning months before the day of the flight.

Traveling while interning at Delta is a must!  I went to NYC for the first time over Memorial Day and it was a fantastic experience!

Traveling while interning at Delta is a must! I went to NYC for the first time over Memorial Day and it was a fantastic experience!

One great perk of interning at Delta is the flight benefit package.  A normal intern has the opportunity to non-rev, or fly anywhere in the world for minimal or no cost at all as long as there is an open seat in the cabin, aka a non-revenue generating seat and passenger for the airline.  So far I have worked at Delta for three weeks and have gone home to Indiana twice and to New York City, Myrtle Beach, and Daytona Beach all once.  Being an airline intern definitely has its perks other than gaining awesome experience behind the scenes.  I cannot wait to use my non-rev benefits to travel around the world!

6Delta World Headquarters, known as the G.O. by employees, is an awesome place to work and I am extremely honored to have been chosen to work for and represent such a well respected and successful entity.  Stay tuned for blogs in the coming weeks and months from here in Atlanta!

 

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

Arriving in San Diego

Flying into downtown San Diego

Flying into downtown San Diego

I can remember my first day of school. My mother dressed me in a big, puffy skirt and styled my hair in the same trend as Pebbles Flintstone to make a good impression. After my parents took my picture, they left me with 25 other screaming, hyperactive children. I was a little alarmed and nervous being on my own for the first time. Back then, my biggest concern would have been: Who will feed me? What if I get sleepy and need to take a nap? What if I get in trouble for stealing Timmy’s lunch?

Well, 15 years later, I can honestly say I had the same fears in getting ready for my internship. Okay, okay, maybe the “stealing Timmy’s lunch” thing was a little silly. I don’t know anyone named Timmy, and besides I think Michael has been the one mad at me for stealing his lunch at work lately. I was still scared. Worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself, or wouldn’t be able to get to work, or scared my apartment wouldn’t be ready and I’d be living in a van down by the river with my newfound homeless friends. Not only was this not the case, but everything turned out better than I could have hoped for.

About 2 months ago, I found out I was accepted to the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program under the American Society for Engineering Education. 3 HUGE names! I was hired for ten weeks in the summer as a human factors engineer/user-centered designer. A few weeks later I was asked if I would be interested in extending my internship. Do I want to stay in sunny San Diego a few extra weeks and make even more money? Is that even a real question? Well, it must be rhetorical because there really is only one answer to that.

My apartment very close to the end of the San Diego International runway. Riddle kids contain yourselves!

I got on the plane in Orlando at 11 am, flew to Dallas Fort-Worth, and arrived in San Diego at 6 pm. Seeing the glowing city with Naval battleships soaking in the bay as we came in for landing got me even more excited about the next few months of my life. As soon as I picked up my bags at the claim, I walked out into the summer heat and got a taxi. It was a 5-minute drive to my new apartment. The driver couldn’t find the apartment number, so I walked partly to the condo (and tipped him very low). Along the way, I found my landlord who met with me that night to give me my key for the next four months and to introduce me to my two roommates, Sharelle (25) and Laura (31). After the landlord left, Sharelle took me to Trader Joes, a small grocery store close by. We then got pizza at a restaurant in the same building. All the stores and restaurants were a 5-minute walk up the street surrounded by Spanish-style buildings and villas. We ate our food and brought our groceries back to the apartment. I finally got a chance to unpack and get settled in my room. The location is actually a 3-story condo owned by our landlord. It was brand new and very clean. I had a queen-size bed with new sheets waiting there for me. My room is the only one on the first floor. Growing up around 3 sisters and a brother, I wasn’t used to having so much privacy.

I woke up the next few days feeling as if I was on vacation. Since I was a week early, I had time to sleep in and visit the popular areas around San Diego. The first full day there, I walked around the city getting anything I needed to feel comfortable in my new apartment. The next day I went to the park, bathed in the radiant sun, and ended the relaxing day at a market on the beach. My roommates called it the hippie market, because it was run by, well, you know… “free-spirits.” Walking down the street I saw foods from almost every continent. There was hand-made jewelry, fresh, exotic fruits, and anything from bright scarves to leather halter-tops. The market ended at a band playing on the beach. This was my first time seeing the Pacific. I felt so small standing next to it, especially with the mile long boardwalk extending out above my head. The people lining the sand of the beach were the epitome of what I would expect to find in California. It was a very diverse crowd consisting of “free-spirits”, hula-hooping enthusiasts, motorcycle gangs, and the surfers out in the water.

Market

Avid hula-hoopers

Avid hula-hoopers

Surfers and Swimmers

Finally got to step in a different ocean.

Finally got to step in a different ocean.

The next day was spent exploring historic San Diego. The entire day, my roommate and I walked through Old Town. Eating burritos, drinking a margarita or two, window-shopping the tourist trap shops. I know what you’re thinking, “How can anyone spend an entire day in an awful tourist trap?” Try finding the name “Carolyn,” on a souvenir. Any souvenir! Aside from the shops, there were beautifully restored buildings housing the many restaurants. Mexican culture was celebrated in a majority of them with colorful flags waving in the breeze, and performers Salsa dancing for the entertainment of others. It was hard to come home that night knowing work would start in just two days.

A good place to go on my breaks from work.

A good place to go on my breaks from work.

Great View!

Only 10 minutes from where I live!

Only 10 minutes from where I live!

Sunset Cliffs.. A little less flat than Florida. Watch your step

As my internship just officially started this past Monday, I will be posting about it in my next entry. Keep coming by…

Hello Summertime!

It’s official you guys. Summer is here!! I am extremely happy with how the semester ended and am grateful that I pulled off all A’s! Woohoo! Now it’s full time at the jet shop for this girl. This is my first day off since summer started and it feels good to recuperate a little because we’ve definitely been working hard! As I mentioned before, my new position at Larsen Motorsports is the co-host of the Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle.

Summertime

Blogging by the pool

The 2014 race season actually started back in March, where we attended our first IHRA Nitro Jam in Tucson, Arizona. This would be the first race debuting the Fastest Girls in Town! The fans are hyped, the team is ready to showcase their hard work, and everyone is ready for a great night of racing! Let’s just say that this race did not go our way. We did not have a spectacular start to the season that we had hoped for. Kat Moller, in her Matrix Systems jet dragster, scrubbed the wall during her first run down the quarter-mile, Elaine Larsen had a FOD (Foreign Object Debris) issue with her engine in her Miller Welding jet dragster, and Dawn Perdue’s Sport Aviation jet dragster had an electrical short causing it to shut off after the smoke and fire show. Man oh man could it get any worse?!

 

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Jet car maintenance at the racetrack!

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Chris Larsen, President of Larsen Motorsports

Despite all of the troubles that the Larsen Motorsports teams were faced with, I can definitely say that the LMS teams display the true meaning of teamwork. The team worked until five in the morning swapping an engine in Elaine’s car and still gave it their all at the racetrack the next day. Our morale and positive energy sure did take a hit that weekend, but do you want to know the secret to our success? How on earth could we possibly recover from such a stressful and heartbreaking weekend? Well, the key to our success is passion. Every member of the LMS team truly loves what they do and would sacrifice so much to make this team stronger. I love working with a team who are just as passionate as I am because it makes all the difference!

Packing parachutes

Our next races were in San Antonio, Texas in April,  and West Palm & Bradenton, Florida at the beginning of May. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we had a whole new appreciation when things did go our way. These next few races were smooth sailing compared to the first race of the season. My family drove from Houston to come see us race for the first time in San Antonio and it was so exciting to have them finally experience their first LMS jet race!

My family at the racetrack

My family at the racetrack

My parents enjoying the race

My parents enjoying the race

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

My sister Savannah (left) and cousin Taylor (right)

This summer will go down as one of the best summers in my life! Traveling with the Larsen Motorsports team is going to be an incredible experience that not many people can say they’ve done. I am truly grateful that I get to represent Embry-Riddle during my travels and share with people all of the amazing projects that I work on as a Mechanical Engineering student. We will leave for Canada at the beginning of June for a month for our races up north. I will be sure to keep you updated on our adventure!

Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

ERAU Prescott Jet Dragster Team joining us in Tucson, AZ

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Team Whataburger run in Texas

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Touring the Simpson Factory in San Antonio

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

I will also be posting jet dragster fast facts videos throughout the summer so you will have the opportunity to expand your jet dragster knowledge. Check out the first few below:

 Fast Facts – Chassis Fabrication
https://vimeo.com/93392661
Fast Facts - Chassis Fabrication

Jet Shop Update – Post Race Inspections
https://vimeo.com/95152906
Post-Race Inspections

Jet Shop Update – Repairing Turbine Nozzle
https://vimeo.com/95159751
Repairing Turbine Nozzle

Jet Shop Update – Removing Lower Turbine Case
https://vimeo.com/95161053

Removing Lower Turbine Case

I arrived in Rockingham, North Carolina this afternoon for our next IHRA Nitro Jam! I will be spending my 21st birthday at the racetrack doing what I love and I couldn’t be more excited! Lookout for some awesome jet racing pictures!

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.