Natalie Wolfe profile
I now know that I want to focus strictly in mechanical design.
Name:  Natalie Wolfe
Major:  Mechanical Engineering
Employer:  AMEWAS, Aircraft Prototyping Systems Division
Location:  Patuxent River, MD

How did you find the internship/co-op? What was the interview process like?    I had already interned at AMEWAS the previous summer doing work in their computer modeling division.  But, I wanted to use more of my mechanical engineering background, so I got reassigned to their Aircraft Prototyping Systems Division. I found my first internship at AMEWAS through an online job board. The interview process consisted of two phone interviews and one in-person interview, all with behavioral questions and questions about previous experience that was listed on my resume.

What have been the most interesting aspects of your internship?    I worked in the fuselage of different aircraft for almost all of my day, and the rest of the day was devoted to driving around to various machining and prototyping facilities.  I was always on my feet, and when I wasn't, I was working on design work and CAD.  I wasn't just focusing on one aspect of the aircraft either; I was looking at how the propulsion, cooling, communications, and electrical systems impacted the work that I was doing.

What courses do you think helped you, or would have helped you, with this internship?    As a mechanical engineering major, many of the courses within the degree program here helped significantly with this internship.  ENES220 (Mechanics II), ENES221 (Dynamics), ENME272 (Computer Animated Design), ENME382 (Mechanics of Materials), and ENME332 (Heat Transfer) prepared me for a lot of the work that I was doing and a lot of the systems that I was looking at.  I wish that I had taken a course or gained more experience with CAD and drafting, as a large part of my day was looking at and marking up engineering drawings.

Did the internship provide a solid education in professional ethics?  If so, how?    Yes, definitely. I often had to communicate with many different departments and customers that spanned across the US and the world, and had to learn how to do so through the instruction provided by my company. The work I was doing was also human-centered design, so I needed to make sure that everything I designed didn't hurt the user.

How would you describe the company culture?  What was the most helpful thing your supervisor did to make you feel comfortable at the organization?  The company culture was great. AMEWAS is an extremely friendly company with great employees; everyone there worked to make sure that I felt welcome. My supervisor in particular made sure that he answered all of my questions, no matter how simple they were; he even encouraged me to ask more. This let me know that I was in a workplace that was very supportive of one another and extremely collaborative.  During my first internship with AMEWAS, one of my supervisors could tell that computer science and modeling wasn't a field that I was extremely passionate about, and worked to move me to a mechanical design division.  AMEWAS works to make sure that you are doing work that you enjoy.

How have your career or academic goals changed as a result of this internship experience?    Before I interned with AMEWAS (in both positions), I thought that I wanted to add a computational component onto my degree, as I thought it would really supplement my degree nicely. However, after interning in both positions, I now know that I want to focus strictly in mechanical design.

What advice would you give other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position?    Start as early as possible, and take a look at companies that you're interested in working for.  Do lots of research, both online and in-person if possible (through career fairs, lobby tables, etc.).  Keep refining your resume and your job search materials as you apply to positions. Use the engineering career services office!  They are great at helping with any career question out there.