June 2009

TGIF! One week into my internship and I am so ready for a weekend!

Just to recap, I’m working in the new business department of systems engineering at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO. It’s not what I expected (but then again I really had no idea what to expect) but it’s pretty sweet.

My department has a lot of engineers, even though it’s a little more business related, because of all the technical portions in potential contracts the company is bidding on. So basically when a company or the government wants something made they send out a bunch of information about what they need, all the requirements it needs to have, and the process to get it. It’s my department’s job to take all that info, ensure that we are able to competitively fulfill all that’s required, properly format it and ultimately send it back and wait to see if Ball gets the contract.

I’m learning this new program that is unlike anything I’ve ever worked with. It’s project management software; you can input information and manipulate it in a million ways to get the style of output you want. I’ve done some programming before so I’ve been able to develop some short cuts to make their process a little simpler since they do it over and over again.

I have to learn a new programming language because DOORS (the program) has its own language. It’s a little bit odd, one of the engineers I asked for help told me it was created in Europe and was designed for use in the European Space Agency. His theory is that the programmers were a little drunk while creating it because there are a lot of weird quirks about it and a lot of people have trouble with it, which made me feel better because it’s a steep learning curve!

Since I’ve been working, the Human Resources people have been awesome about scheduling tours for all the interns at various Ball facilities. We were able to look around the clean room a few days ago; inside I saw the WorldView-2 satellite under construction. I’m sure most of you have played around on Google maps at some point? Well WorldView-1 was created at Ball and it took most of the pictures for Google! Hurray for upgrades, who knows what this one will be capable of? We also had an intern picnic where they gave us free food, hurray! About half the interns are from Colorado schools, some are from Arizona and the rest are scattered. It’s nice to have a variety so no one really knows each other so we are all bonding pretty well.

Ball is teaming up with United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Denver and their interns are going to be building a rocket and the Ball interns are going to be building payloads for it! The rocket is supposed to go up at least 5000ft! The payload I’m working on isn’t going to be ejected from the body of the rocket and has over 5 cubic feet of room to work with, so brainstorming was difficult. Instead of trying to make some technological breakthrough (we only have 5 weeks to create the entire thing!) we decided to have some fun with it. I don’t know if anyone remembers those little green paratroopers that you would drop off staircases or balconies and the parachutes would deploy when you were a kid? Well my team is going to launch a ton of them out of the rocket as it descends after launch. We’re also working on dropping some modified smoke bombs out to help ULA with the wind directions to find the rocket after it lands. I’ll keep you updated on my team’s progress! We launch the end of July! There’s so much to get done before then!

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Nicole

About Nicole

Minor: International Relations
Age: 20
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Internship: Summer Internship with Ball Aerospace
Career Goals: To work on cutting-edge astronautics technology.
Activities: Society for the Advancement of Management, NASA Means Business Competition, research in the engineering department.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I had Embry-Riddle picked out since I was in 9th grade. I took an aviation class in middle school and my teacher mentioned it and I did some research and visited that year. Its number one for my field and everyone loves aviation and space as much as me!

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