Vidhi Patel | Structural Design Engineer Intern
Business Unit: Boeing Research & Technology
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
University: Carnegie Mellon University
Degree Program: B.S.in Mechanical Engineering
What program and team do you work on?
I work in Boeing’s Research & Technology department on the Integrated Vehicle Systems team. As part of the structures division, my internship focuses on everything related to the structural integrity of future Boeing products, from concept design, to testing and evaluation. I have my hands on creating innovative solutions for future commercial airplane programs.
Why did you decide to apply at Boeing, and what about Boeing's mission and the work we do inspires you?
I was really inspired by how much Boeing is committed to exploration. It’s a company that continues to push the limits of mankind and expand our knowledge of our world as we know it, being a global leader in space exploration and safe flight.
What kind of skills are you building during your internship?
I’ve been learning various engineering tools the company uses for structural analysis. In school, we’re taught various machine learning and optimization algorithms but it’s so amazing to see it put to use on actual aircraft. I’ve also learned so much about best design practices in aerospace and all the ramifications a single design change can incur.
How is the internship incorporating ‘fun’ into the experience with your team or other interns?
I’ve been able to meet with other interns in the Southern California region for happy hours after work, to explore various beaches, and of course Los Angeles itself.
What has been your most significant accomplishment/proudest moment as a Boeing intern?
I’m getting the chance to put my engineering knowledge to the test. I just recently explained various robotic optimization algorithms to a group of engineers at the Human Research Laboratory —it was fun to see that even as an intern, I can teach engineers at Boeing and contribute to the company in a meaningful way.
What advice do you have for engineering students who are interested in interning at Boeing?
Apply! When I first talked to a recruiter at Boeing Day at Carnegie Mellon, I didn’t think I would have an offer in my hand 24 hours later. I was nervous about an upcoming midterm, thinking about all the homework I still needed to get done, but decided to pursue the opportunity with Boeing anyway. It’s been my greatest decision so far.
When you look back at this experience in five years, what do you think will be your greatest learning as a Boeing intern?
My greatest learning will be how to be flexible and be a valuable member of a virtual team. I’m happy to be working on-site at Huntington Beach this summer, but collaborating on difficult engineering tasks with an almost wholly virtual team has had its difficulties. It’s taught me patience, how to be creative with communication, and how to adapt to the team’s needs even when the team isn’t right in front of you.
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