August 26, 2022
Summer internships let students get involved in industry before they finish a degree program.
Joe Jenner, a senior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, conducted an internship with Spirit Aero Systems this summer.
We asked him a few questions about the experience.
Tell us about your internship at Spirit Aero Systems. What’s your role and primary responsibility?
Spirit Aero Systems is one of the largest aerostructure manufacturers in the world. Spirit makes a wide variety of structures for many original equipment manufacturers; mainly the fuselage, front sections, wing components, nacelles and pylons for many Boeing and Airbus programs.
I am a liaison engineering intern for the propulsion structures and systems group. Liaison engineers are the middlemen between quality assurance/the factory floor and stress/design engineers. We receive discrepant parts and assemblies, and we determine how best to fix and restore them. The propulsion structures and systems group focuses on the nacelles and struts/pylons that attach the engines to the wings. I get to work with the detailed composite parts of the nacelles as they are being manufactured, before they are assembled.
What’s a typical day like?
My typical day involves shadowing my mentor, inspecting discrepant parts and determining fixes of those parts based on strict allowables given by the OEM. I am not allowed to write up the technical disposition/fix since that takes nearly a year of training, but I still go through the steps of research and inspection to come up with a solution. I have also had the opportunity to shadow multiple stress engineers who use finite-element-models to ensure parts do not fail due to static loading and fatigue.
How did Mizzou Engineering prepare you for this internship?
Mizzou Engineering has helped build a strong foundation for me. Classes such as strength of materials and machine element design have taught me well. Engineering clubs have also aided me, such as the Aerotigers and our design-build-fly (DBF) competition, which gave me a good introduction to aircraft design.
How did Mizzou Engineering Career Services assist you with securing or preparing for this internship?
Mizzou Engineering Career Services enabled me to meet Spirit Aero Systems recruiters at their fall career fair. This allowed me to make a strong face-to-face impression, demonstrate some of my engineering knowledge in person and learn more about the company and its roles.
What have you enjoyed most working at Spirit Aero Systems so far?
What I’ve enjoyed most working at Spirit Aero Systems is learning what an actual engineer does day-to-day. It is also very impressive to see all the large and complicated structures assembled by a well-oiled team of mechanics and engineers. It is cool to see how large aircraft I’ve ridden on are made and to walk through their metal insides before they are furnished.
What have you learned from your internship experience?
I have learned of the many roles a mechanical engineer can have in the aerospace industry, whether that be a stress engineer, a design engineer, or a liaison engineer. I have also learned a great deal about composites. Before this internship, I only had a basic understanding of what a composite was. Now, I know all about their design process, fabrication, strengths and weaknesses. Spirit is one of the leading manufactures of largescale composites.
What advice would you give other students wanting to have a similar internship experience?
One word of advice I would give to other engineering students who are interested in a similar experience is to start looking for and applying to internships early. Two years ago, I only started looking for summer internships in the spring semester. By then, most of them were already full and no longer looking for interns. I learned my lesson and started applying very early last fall to as many interesting internship programs as I could find.
Is there anything else you’d like others to know about your internship?
I would recommend applying to Spirit if you are interested in learning more about manufacturing, even if you are not the most interested in the aerospace world, and even if you are not a mechanical engineer. They are a large company with lots of opportunities and can easily move you around to find a program that best suits you.
Thanks for sharing!
Come to the Fall 2022 Career Fair to connect with amazing employers early in the internship process!