Sara

About Sara

Senior

Aerospace Engineering

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.

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!

July 26, 2010

I’m preparing for my last month here at MTU in Munich! The end of my internship seems to be the exact opposite of the beginning…I’ve got so much work! Now that I pretty much know what I’m doing with UniGraphics, TeamCenter, SAP, and all the other various MTU software that I’ve had to learn I’ve been getting more projects (mostly because the other engineers don’t really have to explain much to me anymore). I’ve also been trying to help the new intern in my office, Anne-Christine, learn some of the programs but she’s been mostly working separately from me. The FAA Audit is next week! Herr Schnellbach still hasn’t mentioned if I’ll be able to sit in like I sat in on the Pratt and Whitney audit, but I think I’ll be able to. MTU is crazy insane about security. I’ve been moving from workstation to workstation this past week because an engineer from Poland has usurped my spot and apparently he’s not allowed to sit in any of the other three offices because of the military projects they work on there. Being from the US does have its perks (though I’m not sure that I’d call this particular one a perk…). The type of work is pretty much the same, edit the drawings, create the programming files, analyze this data and make a presentation with your conclusions (my excel and powerpoint skills are amazingly honed). I think that I (finally!) almost speak German as well now. Herr Schnellbach and I have meetings every other week with the engineer responsible for collecting the data about the Process Control software MTU is thinking of upgrading to (I mentioned it in my last entry) and our second meeting was last week. A representative from the software company was there, and they both were explaining everything in German…and I understood nearly all of it. I was even able to ask some questions of my own (but I spoke in English…). Getting to participate in meetings isn’t a daily thing for me, but I love it when I get the chance to give some input. It’s much better than doing just grunt work. Next week the engineer and I have arranged a meeting so he can explain some things to me in English (I’m supposed to be helping with the decision process about this software so there’s a few things I need clarified…)

I’ve also been busy outside of work. I remember when I first came here I knew no one, and spoke no German. I’d spend weekends wandering aimlessly around Munich by myself…now it’s great that I have a group of friends at MTU that I can do things with on the weekends. Unfortunately I won’t be able to go hiking with them this weekend because I’d already booked a train ticket to Köln (Cologne), Germany! It’s my first time seeing northern Germany, and I’m stopping in Frankfurt on the way back! Köln has a chocolate museum, I so can’t wait. But there’s a bunch of summer festivals here. I was last weekend with some work friends at a festival in Olympia Park, so that’s where the pictures are from this time…I’ve never before seen a real Olympic stadium before, the field (and park itself) is massive. I’m really sad Chicago (my home-town kind of) lost the 2016 Olympics, it would’ve be great having one of these by me. (We have a giant shiny bean so it’s ok though). I booked my train tickets for Prague today too! I’m going the third week in August when MTU has a vacation week. I know about three words in Czech and this is the first time I’m going there by myself so it should be interesting…It’s strange because everyone at MTU thinks it’s really neat that I get to go back to Florida in a month, and I keep telling them that Florida is nothing compared to all the things I’ve seen/done here in Europe…

This past Saturday, July 25th, was my birthday. I took a train to Kaufbeuren to visit my family here. It was so nice to see everyone again. My cousin (actually my third cousin) has her birthday the day before mine, so we got to celebrate together. She’s literally one day older since we were born in the same year. We went to a nice place to eat and I got to see the town where she lives with her husband. I was speaking German the whole time so hopefully I didn’t make too many mistakes…

In two weeks it’s actually the birthday of one of my friends in MTU (the other American girl). She’s turning 21, which means absolutely nothing here where the beer drinking age is 16 (you have to wait till 18 for the hard liquor, sorry high schoolers), but we’re going to pretend anyways that it’s just as significant as in the States. We’re mostly likely doing a massive barbeque in the park, which should be amazing. More to come on that next entry…Tschuess!

July 11, 2010

Time seems to be going by so fast here, I can’t believe I’ve only one and a half more months here. I’m really going to miss Munich and MTU when I have to go back to Daytona for class, but right now I miss home too so it’ll be good to go back to the States. I’ve been insanely busy at MTU recently. We have a new intern in my office as well. She’s a first-year engineering student from France, but she talks with us in English. Things are a bit new to her so, for the most part, she’s starting out how I started my internship, scanning papers and updating databases, but she seems to be picking everything up pretty quickly and it must be harder for her since English isn’t her first language.

As for me, I’m getting ready for an FAA audit of MTU’s software systems the first week of August (which hopefully I’ll get to sit in on as well, sitting in on the Pratt and Whitney audit was interesting). From what I understand, it will be the same kind of audit, but I’m still reviewing everything and revising the presentation we made for Pratt. Right now there’s not a lot of work with CAD to do, so I’m mostly just helping my boss with some of the tasks he’s been put in charge of. We still haven’t made any concrete conclusions about acceptable tolerance variations for parts being manufactured in Poland because they want to run more Try-Outs which take time, so for now that project seems to be stalled. So aside from working on the FAA audit, I’ve been collecting information and analyzing data taken from two of the shop floor controller machines (the machines that create the engine parts) that have been operating with an upgraded software/sensor system.

It’s a LOT of data, charts, graphs, etc to go through and the reports are ALL in German. MTU wants to look into upgrading its machines to this software in the future and is trying to determine the benefits. It seems pretty promising…it measures the power being used by the machining tool and the force it is exerting on the part and determines the variance of these while the part feature is being machined. The (very) basic idea is that the greater the variance of the power/force used during machining, the more likely the tool is to break. MTU hopes to save money by preventing tool breaks which, when they occur, can damage parts to the point where they must be scrapped ($50,000~ worth of scrap approx.) or cost money because the damaged part must be reworked.

My boss and I met today with the engineer who has been taking the data from these machines and who wrote the reports. The first thing my boss told me was “Take notes for later,” then he proceeded to talk in really fast German with the engineer. Very fun. Luckily, I managed to get a few words in and get some sparing information in English which will have to be enough for me to draw my conclusion on the feasibility of this software (it costs $10,000~/machine). If not, I’m going engineer hunting on the shop floor lines tomorrow…

Anyways, that’s what’s been happening at work…but for a good 5 days since the last time I wrote I was in Paris! It was amazing. The last time I was in Paris I was with a tour group and we had to go where they went, when they went…it was so much better just being there by myself and making my own schedule. I mostly did the cliché tourist things anyways…climbed all the stairs of the Eiffel Tower (I wish you could climb to the top though…), saw the Statue of Liberty replica, saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, saw Notre Dame, saw the Sacre-Coeur, and the Catacombs. I took 6 years of French in Jr. High/High School so for the most part I could communicate, except I kept mixing German in my French… And I even got to go to Disneyland this time! It’s interesting seeing Disney here, I’m so used to Disney in Orlando. It’s strange how they mix English phrases into the rides and shows. The Tower of Terror was in English, the exact same audio as in Orlando Disney…it was kind of nice because it *almost* felt like being home.

Nothing much new to report other than that, I believe…I’ve done a few things with my friends from work and am *terribly* glad that the world cup is over, because I’m tired of discussing it at work (but I am sad that Germany lost and America…well we knew we were going to lose, didn’t we?). I’m planning (tentatively) some more trips but I’ll see what’s feasible…traveling is way too expensive (but worth it!)

June 29, 2010

Hi again! I’ve been up to a lot since my last entry. I’ve had some great times with the friends I’ve made here in Munich. It was really hard for me when I first came here because I didn’t know anyone and I couldn’t speak any German. Now I’m actually speaking a bit but my German’s still terrible. However, there’re actually quite a few people here I can speak English with. MTU takes interns from literally everywhere. There’s actually two other Americans here and we’ve been hanging out with two Canadian interns (sort of an English-speaking club?). It’s really great to be meeting people from all over the world. There’re quite a few interns here from France, one I’ve met from Switzerland, another from Austria, and of course a lot from Germany (but northern Germany too, which is like a completely different place). It’s surprising how many of them speak English (which is bad, because I can’t practice German). Even most of the engineers in my building speak English really well…but they keep trying to get me to speak German with them. (Actually they’re teaching me Bayrisch, which is the southern German accent – imagine German with everything shortened and rougher sounding). This weekend some of the other interns and I learned how to make crepes from one of the Canadian interns (Or rather crepe roll-ups as we called them, to the (mock) ire of our Canadian co-worker) and I learned the great value of real Canadian maple syrup (from a can…?!). It’s great I have a lot of friends here now.

At MTU the audit from Pratt and Whitney went well. I had put together the presentation from the material that Pratt had given us, but the inspector had so many questions that it took us two hours to get through it. The language barrier was a bit difficult. My boss and the engineers who were at the meeting speak English pretty well, but there were some expressions that they just didn’t quite get the meaning of. It’s the same for me with German, and worse here in Munich because southern Germany has its own dialect altogether. The day after the initial presentation my boss took the inspector around the factory and showed him all the operating procedures MTU goes through to verify the programs in the controller machines that create the engine components. I had a few more CAD conversions to do (converting the old CATIA drawings to UniGraphics, the program MTU uses now) and I finished up the correlation analysis I was doing on the tolerance values of the parts being made in Poland. Last week my boss was at the factory in Poland conferring with the engineers there. The dimensions of the pre-turned (the step in the machining process prior to the final part) test parts that they’d been making were varying too much from what they should have been (aka they were outside of set tolerances) so they had to figure out a solution. A compromise was reached though, where Poland could deviate slightly out of tolerance, and had to increase material on some areas so that the minimum dimensions of the part could be maintained. And the parts will have to pass inspection in both Poland and Munich to ensure quality. I’m sure a lot of these problems will be worked out eventually. Poland only just started operations a year ago. Complete compatibility with the Munich headquarters will take time, but that’s fine as long as the quality of parts doesn’t suffer.

This week I’m so excited! I have 15 days of vacation that I get with this internship so I planned a few trips, and one is coming up later in the week. I leave on an overnight train Wednesday night for Paris! I’ll be there until next Tuesday, so I’ll definitely have a lot of great pictures for the next entry. For now though, these are just some more from Munich…the statue and the plaza are in Theresienwiese, which is where Oktoberfest takes place every year. The statue is actually the “Bavaria Statue.” Southern Germany was actually the kingdom of Bavaria before it became part of Germany, so there’s a whole slew of culture and history here that’s completely unique to the area. The yellow building is the palace at Dachau, which is really close to MTU and which I finally got to see the inside of last week (the first time I went it was closed). Then another picture in the gardens of Nymphenburg palace, and the one in the cave is from the Deutches Museum. They have a massive exhibit on underground mining, and it is literally a giant fake cave…it goes on for quite a while too. I definitely need to go back there, there’s way too much to see… Anyways though, til next time!

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!