Landing a dream internship: Atchison spending summer at Textron Aviation

July 08, 2022

Lane Atchison stands near a plane during his internship at Textron Aviation.

Lane Atchison is conducting an internship at Textron Aviation.

Engineering internships are important experiences that help you hone your skills and begin to build professional connections.

Lane Atchison, a rising senior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, is working as an intern at Textron Aviation in Wichita, Kansas. The company provides jets, planes and other aircraft for government and commercial customers.

We asked Lane to share some details about his work there.

Tell us about your internship at Textron Aviation. What’s your role and primary responsibility? 

At Textron Aviation, I work with Team Structures to facilitate the structural repair process for all Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker products. This may range from providing an engineering consultation all the way to completing a FAA form 8100-9 (for more serious repairs). Essentially, I get to work personally with customers and the wide variety of piston, turboprop and jet engine aircraft they operate! With guidance from other engineers and research of technical documents, engineering drawings and manufacturing specifications, I help recommend repair definitions for these planes. In addition, I monitor, identify and communicate to other departments structural repair trends to improve repair practices.

What’s a typical day like? 

My days vary and are dependent on the repair cases and design queries I have been assigned or decided to work on. Monday I may come in and begin researching our repair databases on the Citation (business jet) line for specific repair criteria, Wednesday I could be on the service center floor to document damage or help complete a structural damage report, and Friday I could be working with structures engineering to help produce a field repair recommendation. It is not uncommon that I come in to work with little knowledge of a specific model, only to walk out familiar with it from nose to rudder.

How did Mizzou Engineering prepare you for this internship?

Mizzou Engineering’s offerings in Engineering Materials (MAE 2200W), Dynamic Systems and Control (MAE 3600) and Machine Element Design (MAE 3910) are just a few of the courses whose contents have been critical to understanding the structures-heavy nature of my role. In addition to lecture content, I find that Mizzou Engineering professors’ implementation of real-world problems into assignments and exams translates well into the industry! Mizzou Engineering also enabled my pursuit of an Aerospace Engineering minor and helped solidify that the aerospace industry was where I belonged. In addition, I believe the variety of student organizations the College of Engineering supports and promotes assisted in the development of good leadership and teamwork skills. My time with other students in AeroTigers, St. Patrick’s Board and ASME has given me a jump-start to collaboration in the workforce.

How did Mizzou Engineering Career Services assist you with securing or preparing for this internship?

Without the resources Mizzou Engineering Career Services makes available for students, I likely wouldn’t be in Wichita this summer! I met my supervisor at a booth for Textron Aviation at the Engineering Career Fair that MECS helps organize (there are hundreds of other employers who attend every year). I also made use of resume-building workshops and prep interview sessions to prepare myself for the internship search. In these events, employers and student leaders assist students in the fine-tuning of their professional skills throughout their pursuit of internship, co-op and entry-level roles. The Reverse Career Fair is also a great opportunity to network one-on-one with employers and show off what your organization has accomplished.

What have you enjoyed most working at Textron Aviation so far?

In the first few weeks of my internship, I had the opportunity to complete an on-site damage evaluation and traveled to work directly with a customer. I documented, measured and recorded damage on the aircraft with other Team Structures engineers and completed a damage assessment report, providing repair recommendations. Meeting one-on-one with the customer and getting to review the aircraft in a hands-on environment was an outstanding learning experience. Textron prides itself on its employee culture, the quality of its products and the global network of businesses and the support they provide. My internship experience here has been exemplary.

What have you learned from your internship experience? 

Making the leap to the aerospace industry has been a dream of mine for years. Working directly on planes and aerial systems with Textron has expanded my understanding of industry processes such as manufacturing, quality, product improvement and experimental/design engineering. Interns may specialize in a particular department but are given countless opportunities to shadow other areas of the business. I would also add that my role’s close link to the customer has vastly improved my interprofessional skills.

What advice would you give other students wanting to have a similar internship experience?

Utilize your resources! The College of Engineering’s Career Services will have many events held during both semesters of your academic year, often communicated via MU ENGRInfo [a weekly e-newsletter for students] and MU ENGR Career Services emails (take time to read these). Visit with faculty, other students and employers to prepare yourself for the Career Fair and land that position you’re interested in. Attend the Career Fair every year, regardless of what year you are in your major. There is a common misconception that underclassmen will have a hard time landing internships and co-ops in engineering. Don’t believe it: go to build your professional experience and make connections with employers.

Is there anything else you’d like others to know about your internship?

When you accept an internship or co-op, make the most of your opportunity. The employer chose you over all the other applicants because they saw you as a great fit in their company. Challenge yourself every day, ask questions and network: you’ll be on the way to the career of your dreams in no time. M-I-Z!

Thanks for sharing!

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