Below is his first-hand experience at the Industry/Career Expo 2013 held in Daytona Beach, FL.
My name is Chao Zheng and I am currently a junior majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Over the summer of 2014, I was hired by Rockwell Collins as a Systems Engineer intern working in the Coast Guard & VIP Rotary Platform team. During my time there, I worked on two programs: 1) VH-60N/3D Presidential Helicopter “Marine One” and 2) MH-65E Coast Guard Helicopter “Dolphin”.
During the Embry-Riddle industry career expo, I checked out numerous companies but didn’t have any luck with any of the companies despite going through interviews. During that semester, I was waiting for a Boeing internship offer so I didn’t apply to a lot of other companies. When the spring semester came by, I told myself that I shouldn’t limit my options. That’s when I saw an email about Rockwell Collins coming on campus and they are looking for summer interns and co-ops.
I first heard about Rockwell Collins through my high school’s Airframe & Powerplant training with their radio systems. Immediately, I went online and did some research about the company and was really impressed by the ethical working environment. So, I brushed up my resume from my COM 219 Tech writing class, went to the Rockwell Collins meet & greet and immediately got another interview offer the next day. At that time, I didn’t keep my hopes high because a lot of the applicants were seniors or graduates so as a sophomore, I feel like I didn’t stand out. So about one month went by, and I got an email from the Rockwell recruiter saying that I am one of their top candidates and requested to have an online interview with a team manager. Little did I know, my manager Matt Mulnik was the head of the Coast Guard & Presidential Helicopter team and one week after my interview with him-I was officially hired.
What I did as an Intern
As an Intern with Rockwell Collins, I was working on two Government Systems program under the rotary wings department. Throughout my 11 weeks internship, I spend about 70% of my time with the Presidential helicopter program and about 30% with the Coast Guard program. As a Systems Engineer, I was working with a couple of test leads performing testing on the helicopter’s avionics systems. Some of the test include: Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS), Communication, GPS, Map updates, Radio frequencies, CSFIR (black box), engine simulations, overload systems test and quite a few classified tests. In addition to testing, I learned how to script programs using python that will automatically start the systems up and perform tests without an engineer physically starting the helicopter.
The most memorable event on my summer internship actually took place in the longest meeting in my life. The meeting was a MH-65E Coast Guard Helicopter TRR (Test Readiness Review) and it is a three day meeting (8AM-4:30PM) where the team leads showed the Coast Guard customers what we will be testing for the next month. On the second day of the meeting, I was approached by one of the Coast Guard captain and I found out that around half of the Coast Guard serviceman and women were Embry-Riddle graduates. It was very surprising because it really showed me how big Riddle’s network really is. In addition to that, in the same meeting, I met another fine gentlemen who graduated from my high school back in the 70s with his Airframe & Powerplant licenses but he is a team lead for NavAir. During that simple exchange, I was really glad to be there because I feel like I belong there with all these alumni who really took their career into the next level.
Summaries and Lesson Learned
What I learned from this internship is the importance of team work and how learning in the real world differs from learning in a classroom. I was very eager to learn because everything was interesting to me and my colleagues have no trouble teaching me the many things that I don’t know. Some of my colleagues were part of the Black Hawk helicopter program back when it first came into production. I feel much reward to work with many engineers who had 20, 30 and even 40 years of experiences.
Due to the nature of my work and position, pictures and project samples were strictly classified and I am unable to share a lot of details due to confidentiality issues.