June 15, 2010

I’m not quite sure how to start this but hello and welcome to my blog, and I’m glad to share my experiences with you! I’m currently a senior in the Aerospace Engineering degree at Embry-Riddle, with a concentration in Propulsion. That has a lot to do with my current internship actually at MTU Aero Engines.

But before I start talking about that, let me give a bit more of my background and why I am here at Embry-Riddle. Aviation has always been a big interest of mine and it started when I wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. My goals have shifted quite a bit since then, but have generally stayed in the Aerospace industry. In high school I decided to pursue Aerospace Engineering after talking to a counselor and started searching universities. Embry-Riddle was recommended to me by a teacher of mine who had a son attending. The ‘AU’ of ERAU (“Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University”) caught my interest immediately and as I researched further into the school, looked at the course offerings and locations, and visited the campus in Daytona Beach, I was set on attending. And so I have been, and it’s been a great experience so far. The best thing definitely is how much connection to the professional aerospace industry you can get at ERAU. Aside from hosting a series of speakers talking on topics varying from rockets to relativity, the half a dozen or so professional engineering organizations and groups on campus are amazing. I’ve made quite a few great contacts just from being a member in the campus chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). And not to mention also, the ERAU Career Services, which has helped me get both of my internships, including my current internship in Munich, Germany.

And (finally) speaking of my internship, currently I am a “Praktikantin” (German for intern) at MTU Aero Engines in Munich, Germany. This is my second internship, and at 6 months it is also the longest one I’ve done. I actually started this internship March 1st, and I will be here in Germany until August 31st. Getting this internship was really a massive change for me. The position was posted on ERAU’s career site in the middle of November with a deadline at the beginning of December, for the position starting the 1st of January…in Germany. By November, I’d already signed up for my spring classes and was thinking mostly of getting finals over with, already making plans for the winter break and spring thereafter. And yet I applied for an internship that supposedly would have me moving to Germany for 6 months in just one month. However, as it turned out, I did get some extra time because I had to get a residency permit and a working visa before I could start at MTU, and those things takes some time. Thus my start date moved to March 1st.

A bit about MTU: MTU is an independent aircraft engine manufacturer and engine maintenance service provider headquartered in Munich, Germany. They partner with other engine manufacturers like Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, GE, etc, to create components for engines that power everything from the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter to passenger jets, like the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A310. Working here is amazingly exciting for me, I’m really learning so much and Germany is great.

I was hoping this wouldn’t get too long, but it seems I’ve failed at that already…anyways let’s get to what I’ve been up to for 2 months! I work in the TFR Rotor Production department at MTU’s Munich factory. My job is primarily to update and work with CAD drawings for machining operations. MTU uses a CAD software called UniGraphics, so the first thing that I needed to do was to learn that program. I had about a week of tutorials and instruction in the program before I started actually editing any drawings. At ERAU we learn a CAD program called CATIA, so learning UniGraphics wasn’t so bad, because the two programs are pretty similar. The second day of my internship was an introduction for new hire employees, which MTU does at the beginning of every month. They give you a tour of the facilities and the MTU Museum (yeah they have their own museum), which happens to be the only place in the company where pictures are allowed, so the pictures of the museum here will be the only ones of MTU I post. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand most of the tour (my German is still terrible) but it was interesting going through the factory. MTU is a maze of buildings (Aircraft engines were made here during WWII also, so there’re even underground tunnels).

There are 20 or so production lines (that I’ve seen), each designated to create a specific part, and having all the specific machines needed to create that part. My department is responsible for specific lines, and part of what we do is use UniGraphics to create the programs that tell the machines what operations to perform. I haven’t done this yet, but I have received the training to. It’s not something that changes daily, it’s better not to change the programs too often for the sake of consistency. In my time here in MTU I have made several operation sheet revisions, but none that would require a new machining program (In other words, no revisions where dimensions or materials were changed). I’ve since seen a lot of MTU beyond the production lines and shop floor, including where they do the chemical inspections of parts after they are machined, and the “other” engineering building where they use simulation programs to analyze heat build-up and other factors on engine components in operation.

Currently I am working on helping my boss prepare for an upcoming audit (next week!) by Pratt & Whitney (basically they want to make sure we’re following their standards when we manufacture their engine components) and analyzing tolerance values for certain components of two kinds of engines. (In 2009 MTU opened a plant in Poland, and they’re switching certain operations to the factory there. However there’re some deviations from the set tolerances on some of the test parts they’ve made there, so I need to find if those deviations are acceptable or not. All parts are supposed to be in general exactly the same, which is why each component has specific tolerances-to keep everything uniform.)

But I’ve been up to a LOT more than just WORK in these two months! Munich is an amazing city, and I’ve been all over the place here (There’s a palace here, an Olympic Stadium that has a flea market on Saturdays, several castles you can get to by train, LOTS of gardens and parks, etc). I’ve been to Rome, Italy (had some REAL Italian pizza), Salzburg, Austria (where the “The Sound of Music” was filmed and the birthplace of Mozart), Ulm, Germany (birthplace of Einstein), and the Neuschwanstein castle (the model for the Disney castle). I’m learning German, which is really tricky to do with no proper class or teacher, but easier since I’m here in Germany. Also I’ve gone out around Munich with some of my MTU co-workers a few times and I try to go to as many city-sponsored events as I can. I definitely want to get as much as possible out of my time here in Europe as I can, while I’m here doing this internship. I’m posting a few of my pictures from these trips with this entry, so you can see a bit of what I have these past few months!

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About Sara

Minor: Mathematics
Employer: MTU Aero Engines, GmbH
Hometown: Richton Park, Illinois
Career Goals: To work on innovative new propulsion techniques and create more advanced aircraft engines.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I've always been interested in aerospace, and Embry-Riddle seemed like it would give me the most opportunity to pursue my goals within the aerospace industry.

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