Ben

About Ben

Senior

Aerospace Engineering

Class Year: Senior
Company: Honeywell Defense & Space Electronic Systems
Position: Engineering Intern
Hometown: Glenmont, New York
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I chose Embry-Riddle because I wanted to study Aerospace Engineering, and it was and still is the best school to go to for that major.
Career goals: To work for an international company so that I can travel, make a significant contribution to my field, then get a law degree and go into politics

Final Thoughts

Well it’s hard for me to believe, but my three months at Honeywell are now over. Overall I think it was a great experience for me. I gained a lot of technical knowledge that I think will help me in my remaining years at school and also when I enter the corporate world after graduation.

More importantly than the technical knowledge, in my opinion, is what I learned about how to operate in the corporate world of engineering. There are a lot of things that one has to get used to when working within a large corporation that you wouldn’t have to contend with if you worked for a smaller organization. But once you learn how to jump through (or go around) the hoops that are in place in these larger companies you can take advantage of the much larger resources that they have to offer.

My last days with the company were very busy. I was trying to make sure that all the work I had done over the summer was both well documented and backed up so that if things needed to be re-visited, the guys I worked with would have all my notes as a starting point, and wouldn’t have to start again from scratch.

Also, a new experience for me was going through all my hard copies of documents and destroying them. Since all of the work we do is considered either Honeywell Confidential or For Official Use Only (F.O.U.O.) we cannot just throw them away in the trash; they all have to be shredded and then put in special bins that go out to another large shredder the company operates.

Overall I think that my internship at Honeywell was a great experience for me and that I benefited from it greatly. I also felt that I made some contributions to the projects I helped out on and that I was not just there looking over other people’s shoulders.

I would definitely consider going back to Honeywell next summer and would recommend that others look into it as well. It was a great company to work for.

Getting near the end

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. I have only two and a half weeks left in my internship.

Part of the requirement of being an intern at Honeywell is doing a 3-5 minute presentation on what we did over the summer to the other interns and managers. Somehow, lucky me, I get to be the first one to go.

We are doing them on Wednesday so I spent some time last week going over my notes from the summer and putting together a few slides of things I’ve done. That shouldn’t be too bad though.

I’m also starting to go back through things I’ve worked on to make sure that the work I’ve done this summer for the company is documented so that I can hand it off and everyone can continue on the things that I left off on.

I’m still working on one of the test stations that I talked about earlier in the month, we had some complications with the setup that we intended to do and that some of the components we needed would take too long to have built and certified. So we needed to rethink a few parts of it. We have a solid plan now and have the hardware we need on order. So that test station should be up and running before I leave (which would be nice to see after the work I’ve put into it).

Another task that has come up in the last week or so is that our program has a Critical Design Review (CDR) with the customer at the end of August. This is an opportunity for them to look at all of our final hardware and software configurations as well as our plans for testing the specific requirements they have for their units. I’ve started to pull together the information needed for that in a Powerpoint presentation that will end up being somewhere between 150 and 200 slides. It’s interesting going through all of the documents we have and tying to put it together in some kind of order that show how our unit works.

Well, I will most likely be working on the CDR and the final test station for the next two weeks. I’m sure it’ll go by quickly and I want to make sure that the things I have worked on are documented so that they don’t get lost.

Wouldn’t want anyone to have to re-invent the wheel on this project because we are tight on time as is.

Test Design

Hey, so I’ve moved into working on developing test equipment and procedures for some of our units. I’m currently working with two projects on their testing needs and setups.

The first is a Space Integrated GPS/INS for the DoD that we need to test completely. On that project I’ve been working on making sure we are able to get the data we need on the hardware tests and be able to post-process that data after the test. The most challenging test right now is the spin test that we do on the unit.

We need to have data coming out of the spin table so we know what the true position of the unit is and then we also need to have the data coming out of the SIGI so that we can compare and measure the error as we spin it faster.

There’s a lot more to consider and look at than it seemed to me originally. All the data needs to be recorded at the same frequency and the data points need to be time tagged very accurately so we are comparing the correct data points from both outputs.

Along with that, I’m looking into the actual speeds at which we can go on the spin table. It’s not that there is a max speed, but as you go faster, you wear out the slip plugs faster (they allow cables to be connected to the device inside). So we need to determine how fast we can spin for some amount of time without decreasing the life of the machine too much.

The other project I’m working on the test setup for is the one that I had been doing a lot of documentation work on in my first few weeks here, which is good because I’m familiar with the hardware. What I’m doing with it now is setting up a computer station with the correct inputs and outputs so that we can run simulation tests on the unit and read data back out from it and see how the errors are

. The nice thing about the simulations is that we can put the unit in a variety of in-flight circumstances and see how it performs relatively cheaply.

Keeping Busy

The weeks seem to be going by very quickly here. I’m in my seventh week and it certainly doesn’t feel that way. But that’s good, they’ve been keeping me busy here lately, and I feel like I’m learning things every day.

One thing I’ve been putting some time in recently is developing some antenna patterns for our dynamic GPS simulations. Our customer for this project had sent us some data about the antenna they were using and I had to extract that and then, using some Matlab scripts, put it into a form that we can use in our simulation software. It was a good experience to learn how to manipulate data like that, and rewarding in that I was able to do it on my own, troubleshooting as I went.

Another project we’re working on is getting to the point were we have to start to develop testing procedures on the unit and the interface on this product is new. So I’m getting to spend some time in the lab configuring all the test equipment that we have to make sure that we can properly interface the unit with the computer and our test software.

It’s always interesting and a little scary to be working on something that no one has ever done before and that you need to figure it out so that the project can continue on as scheduled.

To get away from talking about work for a little, I just want to throw in the importance of having fun when you’re working hard. Something the folks at work seem to be able to balance very well. They are under a lot of stress of deadlines all the time and everyone works very hard all day long. But at the end of the day and on the weekends people go out and enjoy themselves. Everyone has to blow off steam and have some fun; it’s relaxing and improves the work environment I think.

So things are going great and work and they are keeping me busy and I’m learning, but we are also having some good times. There’s a lot to do here in Tampa if you know where to look.

The Daily Grind

I’m now into the swing of things here. I’ve got a couple different projects that I’m helping out on and usually there is a decent stack of papers on my desk to go through. I’ve been mostly helping out with two main projects; the first is working on the initial documentation work for the project I spoke about last time. The second is doing testing on one of our engineering units because we had to do a software update for a customer.

Finally getting into the lab was a lot of fun, but also a little intimidating. To start there are a few different programs that I had to become familiar with to run the tests and to record the data we got out of them. For these tests we actually plugged simulators into the unit to simulate both INS and GPS data going in and were testing the software to make sure that in different situations we would have the correct data coming out of the unit about position, velocity, attitude, etc. Our unit uses the inertial data that it gets from the gyros and accelerometers and compares that with the navigation data that it receives from the GPS. It then feeds it through a filter of sorts and can get more accurate numbers for the position, velocity, and acceleration of the unit.

So what we do is to feed in data that agrees pretty well to start and make sure that everything is operating properly. The next step is to simulate different orbital environments to ensure that the data coming out is pretty accurate to ‘truth.’ The next step is to do different things to the unit like remove the GPS inputs for a few minutes and then turn them back on to see if the unit can still properly navigate with just the INS data and then once it receives the GPS signals to be sure that it properly reacquires the GPS data streams.

Anyways, after all this testing is done we have tons of data that we recorded during the test and we do what’s called post-processing on it so that we can look at how the device performed. A lot of this is done in Matlab and we get out graphs and statistical data from the tests. This takes a while as we had nearly 1 gigabyte of data to post-process. After all the data is extracted and processed it needs to be put into report format so that we can give it to the customer and show them how their unit performed; lucky for me I got to do that.

It was a really good learning experience to get into the lab and do some testing. The guy that I did the testing with was really great and made a point to really show me how things were working and what was going on. I think that the hands – on experience with the unit helped to give me a more complete understanding of how they operate.

The First Week

The first day at any new place can be very interesting and exciting. My first day started at 8:00am for intern orientation. One piece of advice I would give would to be there early and make sure you know where you are going! I got into town on Sunday and made it a point to drive over to the campus and make sure I knew where I was supposed to be and park, etc. Showing up late on the first day is never a good start.

Anyhow, I got there early and we started our orientation. That pretty much took up the entire morning and was mostly presentations from different departments with information we needed to know about the company and working environment. After the orientation my boss came over and walked me over to the plant where I’d be working and showed me my office and introduced me to everyone around the office. Between meeting everyone and getting things set up I didn’t have much time to actually start on anything.

Luckily for me I had all of Tuesday to get reading the materials they had for me on all of their projects and especially the ones I’d be working on. It’s a necessary evil to any job, just stacks of technical papers to get acquainted with things, but it is important if I want to be of help to them this summer. It was a long day but I learned a lot, so it wasn’t too bad.

The next day, and for the rest of the week for that matter, things started to pick up a lot. I started out helping with documentation, which may not sound romantic, but it’s a very important part of the business. The group I’m with is a Systems Engineering group which means they do all of the top level design work and requirements information, and then they hand down the component constructions to the different specialties. It’s a very interesting task to start to compile one of these documents, which is what I was doing. It gives you a lot of respect for a design team, as you start going through a simple device and breaking it down and discuss what requirements it needs to have and then how you design in those requirements; and subsequently test to make sure they are indeed satisfied.

Currently there are two documents I’m working on for one of our projects. The first is a document that discusses the primary item specifications. This document breaks down requirements into many subsets and can later be used to verify that the final device meets the customer requirements. The second document discusses the interfaces that our product will have and what kind of data will come out of the different connectors. This allows the customer to begin to design both the hardware and the software that they will need to integrate our device into their system.

Well that’s my first week hopefully next week I’ll get into the lab and be able to help do some testing and simulation on some of the other units that we currently have!

Getting the Internship

The process of getting an Internship was very enlightening for me. I learned a lot about the corporate world and how things really work.

My first stop was to our Career Services office. I had a resume and cover letter all set when I met with my Career Service advisor for the first time. Our first meeting included going over both of those documents and her giving me a lot of good suggestions on style, format, and content. We also discussed my interests and what kind of internship I was looking for. It was a good start.

So I got to work on editing and updating my resume and cover letter. I also hit the Internet; many of the major companies want students to apply online these days due to the high number of applicants. This is convenient because it’s quick and easy to apply; however, it’s not the most effective way to get an internship or co-op.

From my experience, and that of my friends, the best way to get an internship or co-op is to create connections with people in the company that you’re interested in. This may sound hard but it’s really not. Make it a point to get to know your professors and to get involved on campus. Our professors have many contacts in the industry and if they know you and respect you they’ll be more than likely to get you in touch with someone that can get you in.

This is how I got my internship opportunity. Last year I got involved in the Satellite Development Group on campus, it was a good learning experience to get hands – on experience and to get to know some professors out of the classroom environment.

This spring one of those advisors heard from a friend of his at Honeywell that they were looking for interns for the summer. Knowing I was searching he offered to pass along my resume. This is the best way to get you resume read and get to an interview. When you apply online you r resume is not necessarily read by a person and it’s hard to make yourself stand out to the computer.

Anyways, about a week later I heard from my adviser’s contact at Honeywell and set up an interview with him for the next week. Since this Honeywell campus was in Clearwater , Florida, (near Tampa ) I offered to drive out there to do an interview in person instead of doing one over the phone. This is another good time to go see Career Services and set up a mock interview. They are very helpful and get you thinking about how to present yourself, and you seem more polished when you do the actual interview.

Well to skip the boring details I went down and got a tour of the facility and did the interview which went very well (you just have to be yourself and be interested). I heard back about 3 weeks later from them with a job offer.