Real-World Engineering Experience Sets Internship ApartJanuary 2016
Collaborative. Versatile. Engaging.
That's how Brandy Goble described her summer 2015 internship at MITRE.
Goble is a student at the University of Alabama majoring in electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics. She interned at the MITRE campus in Bedford, Massachusetts, in the mechanical and reliability engineering department. The different projects she participated in involved various types of engineering, some of them not directly related to her academic background. But that didn't matter, she says, because she was always surrounded by people willing to assist her.
"Everyone wants to help you. They go above and beyond to make sure you get what you need. There are so many people you can use as information resources."
Real-world Effects from Research
Goble worked within the National Security Engineering Center (NSEC), the federally funded research and development center MITRE operates for the Department of Defense. She supported the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN—yes, pronounced "bacon"). BACN is a relay communications system that enables aircraft to communicate with command posts when there's no clear satellite signal path, such as in mountainous terrain.
Goble looked primarily at performance reliability. "Different components have been tested in categories like temperature, altitude, shock, and vibration. They're also tested for either a ground or airborne environment. I analyzed the effects of noncompliance. If a part is noncompliant for a particular use, I looked to see if that has an effect on the reliability of the aircraft's BACN system."
She also worked on a project that tested space system components to determine failure rates and repair time. The goal was to model how individual components perform as part of a cohesive but multi-factor system.
"I love working on things that are going to be real—things that will actually be implemented. I get to apply the knowledge I have to projects I believe will really make a difference."
Working Together with Different Perspectives
Her summer projects relied on a great deal more than just her electrical engineering background, however. "I worked with several mechanical engineers because I didn't always have all the data I needed or didn't understand how something worked," she says.
"I could go talk to people from other fields and get help from them. Everyone's so knowledgeable here. I think that's something that really sets MITRE apart from other companies."
With a MITRE internship, there comes a certain level of independence—something that's important to her. "When they give you a project, no one hovers over you. You get to do your own thing."
Goble also appreciated the open communication she experienced with her main mentor Erica Mason, a MITRE reliability engineer. "She was amazing and so helpful. She was always there when I had questions—very supportive and encouraging. I never felt scared to ask a question."
An Internship that Boosts Career Potential
MITRE interns work on the same projects as regular, full-time employees. "You definitely get more engineering experience here. I've had the opportunity to apply my knowledge from school so much more than I would have expected."
An internship at MITRE is also a great way to make connections and network for a future career. "You can connect with people who have doctorates from schools like MIT. Not only is it an amazing networking opportunity, but you can learn so much from them."
—by Emily Ready