June 04, 2013

Call From NASA (Part III)

Plotner shows off a test version of a satellite

Ben Plotner, BSEE '14, writes about his co-op at America's space agency in the final article of a three-part series.

Ben Plotner, Electrical Engineering, 2014

Co-op Employer:  NASA

Co-op Position:  Intern for Launch Control System Project

Hometown:  Ipswich, Mass.

A Great Co-op

The past four months have been some of the most exciting and influential of my life. I had the unique privilege and opportunity of working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. My experience there was nothing short of amazing. I had the opportunity to see and observe pieces of history every day and work with the engineers and technicians that make every piece of every mission of the nation’s space program possible.  

While there, I was given the chance to work with many different engineers from a variety of fields on a number of different projects. Everyone that I worked with was always helpful and was happy to give advice or lend insight to any problem I was having. The work environment was welcoming and enjoyable. In addition to engineers and technicians, I also got the chance to work with other interns who were also on co-op at the space center. There were 13 of us all together, from all over the country. We were all studying different fields of engineering, ranging from electrical and computer to aerospace and even chemical engineering. I thought it was interesting to get a different perspective on engineering and I had a lot of fun working with them. 

What I liked most about my co-op was the experience I gained from it. I thought it was fun to be able to apply what I learned in school and use it in a lab to design and build actual projects. For example, one project I worked on was focused on building a small satellite that would be used to measure vibration and acceleration forces on a rocket during a launch. I was involved in nearly every step of the design process, from creating hardware designs to writing software to assembling the final flight hardware. The feeling of seeing a finished product and knowing that you contributed to it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

My experience at NASA has taught me a lot about the engineering and design process. Not only have I improved on the skills I have learned at Wentworth but I have also learned how to apply those skills and integrate them into a larger process. I have had the chance to be involved in every step of the design process of a project, from the initial planning and design phases all the way through to the final development and testing. I have learned that each individual step plays an important role in the success of the process as a whole. These skills will help me at Wentworth in my labs and team projects and as I start to think about my senior design project. By using these skills and working with team members, we can really improve how effectively and efficiently we can develop and complete a project.

Read more from Ben Plotner here.

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