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Generation Orbit Spring 2017 Intern Spotlight

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As a company, we at Generation Orbit (GO) love hosting college interns. We’ve had many students intern with us throughout the years, each adding value to our team in numerous ways. This semester, we were fortunate to host and get to know three awesome interns: Christine Apicella, Andrew Hull, and Thibault Bagnol.

Christine and Andrew are both students at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. Andrew finished his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in December of 2016, while Christine is currently in the Master’s program for Mechanical Engineering and is on track to graduate in the Spring of 2018. Andrew will begin work on his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech this fall. Thibault graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering from San Diego State University in December of 2016 as well, and plans to start graduate school in the fall.

Just a quick chat with our interns and you’ll see that they each love what they do. Thibault first became interested in aerospace and aviation when he moved to the United States from France at just seven years old. Once they moved, Thibault and his family lived close to a Marine Corps airbase and he was often woken by planes flying overhead. Constantly watching the planes sparked his initial interest. He soon became involved in model rocketry, which turned his sights to aerospace engineering. He is now captivated by aerospace and says it is a “very unique feeling” to be able to contribute to the aerospace engineering field. At GO, Thibault works on several propulsion tasks, including the design and creation of a pressure valve for GO1. He has worked on the valve from the ground-up, and hopes to see a functional product completed before the end of his internship. To Thibault, that hands on experience has been both a rewarding and fun process and is one of his favorite aspects of working at GO. “One of the biggest things,” he says, “is getting to apply everything we’ve learned so far in the best way possible.”

Andrew’s passion lies within engines. He completed his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering with initial plans to design and work with car engines. He switched to aerospace engineering for his graduate degree after discovering the challenges and excitement of gas turbines and rocket engines, hoping to work more with aerospace propulsion systems. Andrew has enjoyed the ability to work on a lot of different projects and participate in several aspects of GO. To him, the best part of working at GO as an intern is the fact that his work has been impactful and will continue to be used by Generation Orbit in future projects.

Christine views space as the next frontier. She likens the challenges and adventure of the aerospace industry to that of cavemen experimenting with fire and the creation of the wheel. She enjoys the constant push of trying to find the next big thing in the aerospace field. “People are at heart adventurers,” says Christine, “and being part of that is pretty fulfilling.” During her internship, Christine has seen the image she has of her future career line up with the tasks she has been working on. She notes that an awesome aspect of working with GO has been the ability to work within her interests while completing tasks that are all related to, but not necessarily part of her major. She enjoys seeing things come together from different perspectives.

Our college interns have traditionally worked on tasks that directly benefit the company, and this semester is no exception. They have been working hard on various projects, making contributions to GO that will continue to be used long after they have finished their time with us. Before leaving, though, they each had wise words for our future interns. Thibault recommends keeping an open mind and being prepared to look at the big picture. The ability to combine disciplines to fully analyze a problem has greatly helped him. Also, it’s a good idea to bring textbooks and brush up on the basics. Along those same lines, Christine encourages future interns to “be ready to try something outside of your field of comfort. Don’t shrink away from it – embrace it.” She views internships as an opportunity to venture outside of the textbook world and try a variety of things related to your future career. Speaking from experience, Andrew advises interns to “make sure you always point the vehicle forward when running CFD (computational fluid dynamics).” Analyzing problems with a backward vehicle does tend to set you back a bit. No worries, though, Andrew’s vehicle is now facing the correct way and he hopes to prevent future interns from going through the same issues.

Everyone at GO has immensely enjoyed spending time with Christine, Thibault, and Andrew this semester. Just for fun, we asked them for one item on their bucket list. Christine hopes to one day visit Scotland in search of the Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster rumored to live there. A hobby of Thibault’s is sailing and his ultimate goal is to sail around the world. Andrew is an avid hiker and aims to one day hike the John Muir trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. We have enjoyed watching Andrew, Thibault, and Christine grow as engineers. They are all extremely talented and we look forward to keeping up with their many future successes.