My academic and career goals changed significantly as a result of this internship.
Name: Charlotte Ondatje
Major: Civil Engineering (previously Aerospace Engineering)
Location: McLean, VA
What campus activities or courses do you think helped you, or would have helped you, with this internship? I took ENAE283 and ENAE202 prior to my internship, which are Introduction to Aerospace Systems and Computing Fundamentals for Engineers, respectively. They were both really helpful as my primary job during my internship was creating a program using different metrics to determine and predict locations of satellite constellations. Computing fundamentals exposed me to the basics of MATLAB and C++, which I was then able to translate to coding in Python 3 and learning a new program called AFSIM. I had never been exposed to AFSIM, or Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling before, so to have basic knowledge of the structure of coding languages was an immense help in learning how to use and create models in AFSIM. Introduction to Aerospace Systems was helpful in understanding the orbital mechanics behind satellites’ locations and the swath of different satellites’ sensors.
Was there diversity among your colleagues within the department and throughout your internship/co-op experience? There was definitely room for growth as a whole, as is the case in a lot of engineering-based companies. I am no longer going into the aerospace field, but within engineering, especially the aerospace engineering field, minorities are extremely underrepresented. With that being said, the whole sensor modeling and performance analysis intern team that I was a part of was comprised of women aerospace and mechanical engineering majors, which was great!
Was there a formal program for all interns at the company? Was peer support available throughout the internship? There was a formal program for all interns at the company, however our experiences varied depending on who our bosses and mentors were. Peer support was also available! I worked in a team of three, and we collaborated with another team of interns on a project as well. It was very helpful for first learning about AFSIM and other things for the first time, as we could share resources and teach each other.
How have your career or academic goals changed as a result of this internship experience? My academic and career goals changed significantly as a result of this internship. I decided I no longer wanted to continue with aerospace engineering, as I began to realize that it was difficult to avoid military applications of my degree, and even if I was not working with the department of defense I realized I wanted to work more with the environment.
What advice would you give other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position? Some advice I’d give to other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position would be to pursue as many opportunities as possible, as you never know what you may find!