August 16, 2010

Hi again! It’s my last month here in Germany. I think I’m ready to be back in the U.S. by now. I’m sorry to say that this entry won’t have pictures because this week is a company shut down week at MTU so I’m actually sightseeing now in the Czech Republic for the week and I don’t have my computer with me. I’m also typing this in notepad (on the guest computer at my hotel), so hopefully I won’t make any spelling errors.

Of course this month I’ve been getting more work than ever and I’ve been actually more on the shop floor than anything discussing drawings with the machine operators. I’ve been upgrading some of the older drawings and that means completely using UniGraphics to change the layers of everything to MTU’s standard system. Because the machine operators don’t actually need all the dimensions of the part (most are there for the inspectors), any useless dimensions for them go on a specific layer, which is hidden on the shop floor version of the drawing. So I’ve needed to check all the dimensions with them and have them figure out what they need.

Last week though I actually got a really great surprise. An engineer in my office arranged for me and the other intern in our office to have a tour and explanation of the EJ200 jet engine. MTU Munich is responsible for assembling the EJ200 engine for all of the German military’s Eurofighter jets and MTU manufactures all High Pressure Compressor (HPC) and Low Pressure Compressor (LPC) sections for every Eurofighter jet. The Eurofighter is a massive joint effort between Italy, German, England, France, and I forget if there are others involved. Each country manufactures components for the EJ200 (Italy’s Avio makes the gearbox for the engine, Germany’s MTU makes the HPC and LPC sections, etc) and assembles and maintains its own Eurofighter EJ200 engines (because I imagine France wouldn’t want Germany assembling its military engines, etc (though MTU does a good job at it)). A German military officer who spoke excellent English showed us where they perform maintenance on the engines and where they assemble the engine parts.

He was an engineer too actually, so as he was showing us the various parts of the engines he was explaining aspects of the engine design. MTU actually has impacted and helped improve the design significantly because of its unique ability to manufacture “blisks”. Blisks are just “bladed disks”. In conventional aircraft engines the disks and blades are manufactured separately and fitted together afterward. MTU has refined several techniques to attach the blades directly to the disks, which saves a significant amount of weight.

It was a lot of great information and the officer explained everything from avoiding harmful harmonic resonance to thermal bowing with the EJ200. Then he took us over to where they test the EJ200 engines and arranged for us to see a test the next morning. Seeing the EJ200 test was great. The best part, of course, was seeing the flames shoot out of the back of the engine during the few seconds that the afterburner was being tested, but the rest of the test was interesting too.

The MTU person responsible for all EJ200 tests was there and he was explaining even more about the engine and the test. He took us outside to see the length of the building because even though the length of the engine is only 4m, the afterburner flames shoot 50m out so the testing building actually extends about 60m from where the actual testing takes place (unfortunately though the window in the observation room doesn’t let you see the whole thing). Last week also was the last week for the other American intern, the other intern in my office and the two Canadian interns that I had made friends with here, so my last week at MTU I’m pretty much on my own (it’ll be just like my first weeks at MTU, fun).

So last week I got to attend the presentations of the two Canadian interns, in which they presented the accumulation of their work here at MTU (I don’t have to do one, it’s only their department that required them to). They were working more on design (which is actually more what I’m interested in) so they were working on MTU’s main project with Pratt and Whitney, the Geared Turbo Fan (GTF) engine. The GTF engine is one of the two “future engine” technologies, with the other being Rolls Royce’s Open Rotor engine. The GTF engine has a gearbox that allow the fan and the LPC to operate at speeds independent from each other so that each can operate at their optimal speed.

The presentations were on the work they had done for the GTF program. It was almost like being back in school, a Powerpoint and a lecture with some crazy math equations and figures. As for other things I’ve been up to this past weekend me and my fellow interns were in Nuremburg, a medieval town about an hour’s train ride from Munich. We went and saw the castle there and just had fun wandering around the town. It’s amazing how well everything was preserved there…I think I’ll wait until next week to talk about the Czech Republic so for now I’ll end it here (someone else is waiting to use the computer so…). Sorry again for the short and abbreviated entry again, but I explained the important stuff I think the rest is just traveling which I can get into more next time. Can’t wait to get back to the States!

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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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