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WINTER 2007-08

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Student Profile: Erin Hammons
Erin Hammons
COURTESY PHOTO

Houston ... we have an intern. For Erin Hammons, the greatest benefit of interning is understanding the real world of engineering. Hammons, a junior mechanical engineer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, worked as a quality engineering intern at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

She worked mainly with the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a near-Earth satellite scheduled to launch in December 2008. She also worked on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope Service Mission 4 and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

As a quality engineering intern, Hammons had many responsibilities. She assisted senior engineers with mechanical and electrical integration support and carried out many tests on spacecraft components. She wrote or reviewed many types of documents, such as problem reports, procedure deviations and work orders.

While performing duties that required her to work on the flight structure, Hammons was required to wear a “bunny suit.” A bunny suit covers everything on the worker except their eyes. Hammons had to wear this type of suit when she worked in a Class 10,000 clean room, which is an extremely controlled, sterile laboratory. Its temperature and humidity are constant, and the room is surrounded by air filters to keep the air in the room as pure as possible. The room is designed to never allow more than 10,000 particles larger than .5 microns per cubic foot of air in.

Erin learned many valuable lessons while working for NASA.

“My favorite part was working on actual NASA missions with people who were as passionate about their jobs as I was. I worked with many fantastic engineers who were always willing to help me learn.”

Hammons also learned the immense value of teamwork. She noticed that all the engineers worked diligently to help the project succeed.

Dennis D. Schulte, a professor of engineering at UNL, says that internships have many benefits for a student.

“First and foremost, internships give you a taste of engineering in the real world,” Schulte says. “Secondly, internships can give you a feel for the application of certain aspects of courses you have taken or will take.”

Hammons said she gained an invaluable sense of confidence and understanding about the engineering world during her internship. She said she is better able to understand the relationship between her engineering classes and a real engineering job. She is able to apply what she learned at NASA to her courses.

“I think internships are the most important thing an undergrad can do. I would definitely recommend taking an internship wherever you can get one,” Hammons said. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it!”

 

     

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