Senior, Alex Boutin describes his experience interning with Barnes Aerospace:
This past summer I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship with Barnes Aerospace in East Granby, CT. The branch I worked at provides MRO services (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) to repair jet engine components for different airlines. Jet engines are subject to intense levels of stress and a certain amount of damage and wear is unavoidable, therefore the FAA imposes strict inspection regulations to ensure they operate safely when planes are in flight. Proper repairs can also dramatically extend the lifetime of a part, making it a cost-effective solution for airlines as opposed to purchasing entirely new parts.
One of my responsibilities was to inspect components and asses the location, type, and magnitude of any damage that was present. The engine manufacturers, like General Electric and Rolls Royce, publish technical data on each of their components that we use to create inspection checklists to measure and record the types of damage on a part (pitting, cracking, scoring, etc.) and whether a repair is necessary or possible. There are very tight tolerances on jet engine components, parts can be scrapped if they are as much as a thousandth of an inch out of spec, so it was important to have a strong attention to detail. Afterwards, I would compile what I had found into a report that the senior engineers could review and submit to the client, recommending repair or rejection based on the findings.
I am interested in the aerospace field, so it was a great experience being able to work with jet engines and learn about all the different components and what their purpose is. A fun exercise I would do would be to look up the engines I was working with and figure out what planes they were installed on. This gave me a broader perspective on the aerospace industry and something interesting to talk about at the dinner table.
This internship helped me grow because I was able to see what life is like for an engineer after college. One of the thoughts that has weighed on me throughout my engineering classes is that sure, I can do math just fine and I do well on tests, but what do engineers actually do all day? How will I apply what I’ve been learning? Engineering isn’t necessarily as clear cut as other professions and there is so much more to it than just the equations we learn in the classroom. It’s something you can only truly learn by doing it, and I was glad to get that opportunity.
An interesting part about interning at Barnes was how involved I was able to get with certain projects. You usually figure that, as an intern, they’ll probably just have you do some excess paperwork or fill out some spreadsheets, which I did, but I also had a lot of freedom to present my ideas or suggest a solution to an issue and I really came to feel like I was part of the company. Another takeaway was the relationships I was able to build with other engineers and technicians, from whom I could learn about their experiences and the path that they took to get where they are.
My advice to other students would just be to ask as many questions as you can. There is going to be a steep learning curve no matter where you go, so you just need to get as much information as possible.