Internships with National Aerospace Solutions (NAS), LLC at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) are not just summer jobs. Interns are assigned projects that involve complex mathematical calculations, drafting work instruction documents, building databases, writing code, and stress analysis calculations. Their work requires coordination across multiple departments and functions at AEDC. In just 10-12 weeks, interns have the opportunity to solve real problems and develop improvements that make a lasting, positive impact at AEDC.
This summer NAS hosted 14 engineering and four business students from colleges and universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. The interns gave presentations at the end of their assignments that detailed their accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned during their summer at AEDC.
Leanne Turpin, a fourth generation AEDC employee beginning with her great grandfather, worked on two projects this summer to improve safety and functionality of equipment, including coming up with a solution to reduce vibration in a refrigeration vapor line. She developed design solutions working with system engineers and operators, and mathematically verified welds were strong enough for the chosen brace design. Turpin graduates this December from Tennessee Tech University with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Ryan Absher is a junior at the University of Alabama – Huntsville, studying electrical engineering. His summer project was a proposed improvement in a wind tunnel facility that would improve equipment speed, accuracy, and reliability. Absher said a highlight of his internship was gaining experience in the engineering environment. He enjoyed having an actual problem to solve, the people he worked with, and the general work atmosphere at AEDC.
That was exactly the feedback NAS managers were hoping to hear from the interns.
Doug Pearson, former NAS deputy general manager and part of the team that developed the NAS internship program back in 2016, offered opening remarks at the first day of intern briefings. He said NAS was charged to make this internship program unlike any others, with an objective to bring in highly qualified, technically competent students who want to work and contribute to the AEDC mission. In return, NAS would offer up its technical leaders to host, sponsor and mentor these interns.
NAS’ intern program is different than most because instead of being assigned one project in one department for the entire summer, they contribute to multiple projects. For Engineering interns, they get to work in different engineering functions (i.e., design, controls, power, testing) that are applicable to a variety of engineering degrees they could be pursuing.
“This is a huge reason why our internship program is so beneficial,” said Shelby Ables, the Human Resources coordinator for Engineering interns. “These different projects allow each individual intern to find their niche, which is what we enjoy seeing. With each project they are assigned to a specific mentor, so the interns also get to know a lot of people and areas here at the base, and get more accustomed and comfortable in various professional surroundings.”
“Our interns are a great priority for us because we look at them as the future of NAS,” Ables said. “We invest our time and knowledge in the interns because we want them to be successful and consider NAS their number one place to work when they graduate.”
Pearson told the interns, “In the technical community, it’s always about the future. You guys are the future. The only way to get there is through education, experience, and opportunity. This opportunity is a glimpse of what your future might be. What you contribute here is important. I hope you come back [to AEDC] and are successful.”