Co-op/Intern Spotlight: Jake Sleyster

Jake Sleyster, Senior, Aerospace Engineering

Jake Sleyster is an Aerospace Engineering senior at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, AZ campus. During the past two summers, Jake has worked as an Engineering Intern at Tamarack Aerospace in Sandpoint, ID, completing numerous projects and gaining experience that will benefit him greatly when he graduates this coming May. Jake works in the Embry-Riddle Admissions department as an Admissions Representative and Senior Tour Guide. He is also a member of Sigma Chi and captain of the Embry-Riddle Lacrosse team/club.

What kind of work did you do as an Engineering Intern at Tamarack Aerospace?

Tamarack is a small company, so I did a lot of everything, from design of aircraft accessories, reverse engineering of a throttle knob, test equipment, composite wet layups, and assembly of tips to wings taking into account deflection, riveting and wrote reports that were submitted to the FAA. I worked with two DERS on design certifications.

Did you work on the new Atlas program?

A little bit, but I’m under NDA, which is non-disclosure agreement. Take a look at the recent press releases on the Cirrus.

What was it like working at a small company? 

It’s like a family; we worked six days a week of long hours. Being at the airport, we watched planes land, and there was a fly-in of experimental planes at the airport. There was an experimental plane that landed belly down with no landing gear, so we got in a taco truck with our fire extinguishers. When we got there, the A&P told us we needed to get it on its wheels, so about 10 of us lifted it up, and got the gear extended.

What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop?

Knowing how to write reports, shop skills, CAD, and electrical engineering, in addition to my core aerospace courses.

How did you land the internship, and how did you navigate the process?

It’s in my hometown. The owner was my lacrosse coach in high school, and he wrote my recommendation to get into ERAU. Networking is key.

Do you think it was important to do an internship?

Yes. It taught me what it’s like in the aviation world, aircraft components, concepts that classes alone can’t teach you. At the Career Expo, employers seemed more interested in me and my experiences than some other students. I think they spent more time talking to me than they would have if I didn’t have internship experience.

What did you do while on your second summer there?

Being the senior intern was cool. I reviewed the work of newly graduated mechanical engineers and worked alongside high-level engineers.

Did you gain any knowledge that will be useful to you back at school?

Understanding composites and strain gauges helped me with S&I class and Materials. Also, actually seeing how and why we do things is very important.

You got to represent Tamarack at AOPA. Tell us about that.

It was another great opportunity to talk about Tamarack to small and large companies, plus I got to experience an AOPA Aviation Summit – the aviation vibe is even stronger there than on campus.

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