July 31, 2011

Time has flown by here in Virginia! At the time of this writing, I only have three weeks left on my internship. My last day is August 19th, and then I will have two weeks before I have to report back in Daytona for the last class of my graduate degree! Last week I signed the paperwork to change over from an internship to a co-op. The difference is that an internship is temporary and you are released from the company when you are done working; a co-op means that you will have a guaranteed job when you are done with school. The plan for me is to return to Florida for my class, come back here to work on my thesis, graduate in May 2012 and then become a full-time employee for the Naval Surface Warfare Center. My coworker just passed her thesis defense this past Friday at Embry-Riddle! I should be in her shoes this time next year.

One thing I forgot to mention in the last entry was how wonderful traveling is when you work for the federal government! That statement was only partially sarcastic. When I flew out to California for a conference a couple weeks ago, I ran into a few issues. The first time the idea of sending me out to CA was brought up was on a Monday. We literally spent an entire work day trying to get me registered on the Defense Traveling System (DTS) and finding out if my travel credit card had been approved. Long story short, we were able to get a flight booked for the following morning and made reservations for a rental car. My flight out of DC ended up getting cancelled. Another long story short, I called up our travel people and they were able to rebook me on a later flight and reschedule my arrival time for the rental car. It was like one-stop shopping. Plus, I received priority boarding on every flight! When I returned from my trip, there was more fun to be had with filling out reimbursement forms and documenting all my receipts. Something else I learned about is this nice little thing called per diem. Per diem is a certain amount of money that you are given for daily expenses while you are on travel. Whatever you don’t spend, you get to keep! The mileage I had to drive to and from DC was also reimbursed. Even though there may be hassles and headaches, the government definitely takes care of its employees.

I have recently been added to a couple new projects here at work. One of them is working with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). There were originally two different styles of ships built in response to a government contract. LCS 1 (USS Freedom) was built by Lockheed Martin in 2008 and LCS 2 (USS Independence) was built by General Dynamics in 2010. The frames of these two ships are very different. The government planned to choose the best design but decided to build more ships with both designs in order to keep the ship building industry afloat (pun intended). Even though the frames are different, both ships have the same capability of housing three types of interchangeable Mission Modules (MM). The MMs consist of Mine Countermeasures (MCM), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) or Anti-Surface Warfare (SUW). The assignment of the ship will depend upon which MM it has onboard. My branch, Human Systems Integration (HSI), has the responsibility of overseeing the HSI efforts across all the MMs and reviewing a document called an HSIP (Human Systems Integration Plan). Northrop Grumman wrote a nearly 200-page document to outline the HSI program for the MMs, and it is our job to review this document and return it back to Northrop with our expert recommendations and corrections.

LCS 1: http://www.lmlcsteam.com/?page_id=7

LCS 2: http://www.gdlcs.com/independence-class-lcs/uss-independence-lcs-2

By the way, you know your job is extremely cool when there are explosives going off next door!!

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About Rachel

Graduate: MS Human Factors & Systems
Undergraduate: Engineering Physics
Minor: Mathematics
Career Goals: To work in the field of Human Factors, studying human performance in extreme environments.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I wanted to become an astronaut after attending space camp as a kid. Science and sports were my strengths in high school. My senior year, I received a pamphlet in the mail about Embry-Riddle and was immediately intrigued. I flew in from IL to tryout with the soccer team, toured the campus, went to the beach and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wanted to make Embry-Riddle my new home!

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