July 14, 2010

Co-op Experience: Seth Gray

"I took a leap of faith and drove across country to a place I'd never been and where I didn't know anyone, and it definitely paid off."

Mechanical Engineering Technology ’11
Co-op Employer: Space Exploration Technologies www.spacex.com
Position: Design Intern

The Sky is Not the Limit

For Seth Gray, BMET ’11, his first co-op was a test of his capabilities like he never could have imagined. At SpaceX, a space exploration technology company in Hawthorne, Calif., that develops rockets and spacecrafts, Gray had the opportunity to work on a variety of design projects, visit subcontractors and test facilities, and witness many flight tests on components. The expectations of his work performance were similar to other full-time employees. After spending a semester at the company, Gray feels confident he can thrive in a challenging work environment.

“This co-op has affirmed my passion for mechanical engineering. It also proved to me that I can get a job and succeed at that job.”

Learning by Doing

Gray was required to produce high-quality work under tight deadlines. He was given a lot of his own assignments and was also sought out to assist with a colleague’s work if someone had a pressing deadline. The fast-paced communal environment allowed Gray to learn a lot from those around him.

“During the day I would walk around the floor and get input from various people. They really immersed me in what it takes to succeed at an engineering company.”

Big Risk, Bigger Reward

In the beginning Gray worked on flight tooling for composite lay-up components, and by the end of his co-op he was designing his own flight parts and also parts that would be used to create test equipment. For Gray, traveling across the country was worthwhile as his experience in California gave him insight into the pressures and rewards of a real job. Almost all the tasks Gray was responsible for at SpaceX were of crucial importance and had strict deadlines.

“I took a leap of faith and drove across country to a place I’d never been and where I didn’t know anyone, and it definitely paid off.”

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