The World’s Oldest Rodeo and 4th of July Celebration in Prescott

Arriving in Prescott, many college students experience a slower, traditional small-town vibe. Yet, when Christmas or patriotic holidays roll around, Prescott awakens. It is a festive Hallmark town, colored with cheer and décor. This 4th of July was no different. Drawing people from all over Arizona, Prescott was bustling with numerous events, like the World’s Oldest Rodeo, the 4th of July Parade, Northern Arizona’s Annual Tattoo Fest, and, of course, a fireworks show.

Taken in an alley, this gem of a Prescott mural was nicely hidden behind Whiskey Row.

To kick off the weekend, Prescott hosted the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Surprisingly, this was a culture shock like no other, a country culture shock if you will. I was not prepared, cowboy hat and boot-less. In awe, I watched as cowboy after cowboy competed in various horse-riding and animal lassoing events. Many times, I had to Google the competition I was watching, for I had never seen such a thing. But, like the large crowd of country folk in attendance, I was entertained and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

These friends (alumni Timmy Casnellie, alumni Ashley Carlson, student Keliz White) joined me in experiencing the rodeo life.

The annual 4th of July Parade processed down the streets of the downtown Courthouse Square, ultimately testing my parallel parking skills. Hundreds of Prescott locals showed up to support our veterans, lining the streets with red, white, and blue. The streets were overflowing with retro cars, local law enforcement, motorcycles, and tons of floats, from our own Golden Eagles Flight team’s float to a Democratic float, sporting a huge cutout poster of President Biden. If this puts into context how busy it was, I had to risk getting kicked by a flipping cheerleader just to cross the street for a coffee.

This is an example of the numerous tattoo shop booths that lined Tattoo Fest.

Unbeknownst to most, the Northern Arizona Annual Tattoo Fest was taking place at the Prescott Resort and Casino. Although daunting at first glance, the fest was a creative chaos; the air filled with the nonstop buzz of the needle as people were getting tattooed left and right. After spending many hours browsing the line of booths, I left the resort reflecting on all the life stories that were shared and souvenirs I collected. It was a welcoming environment, and I’m appreciative of this glimpse into the tattoo world.  

To complete the weekend, the fireworks show went off over Watson Lake. While the fireworks were grand and explosive, the fair-like activities prior were more enjoyable in my opinion. Since the pandemic, I have forgotten how the simple activity of picnicking with friends could be so fun. And, the grand finale of firework burst after firework burst made the trek back to the car in the dark worth it.

This image displays the start of the fireworks’ finale.

Overall, Prescott’s support and applaudable effort in celebrating this holiday weekend was a pleasure to partake in. Growing up in a city, I do miss the hustle and bustle of typical metropolitan life. Seeing the town rise to the challenge made me appreciate the community we are a part of, here, in Prescott, Arizona.

All About Classes

by Richard Santi

Embry-Riddle of course has exceptional flight training, a beautiful campus, and lots of fun activities available in and around the Prescott area. But what about the classes?

In high school I was not by any means the type of student that absolutely loved going to class. I wasn’t a bad student but can remember spending a lot of time watching the clock and waiting for the bell to ring.

Aeronautical Science students use flight simulation software to learn advanced jet systems, including programming a FMS computer like the one pictured in the top left of the screen.

Things changed after my first couple days at Embry-Riddle. Suddenly class became not only really interesting but incredibly fun! As an Aeronautical Science student with a Business Administration minor, I have gotten the chance to learn a lot of genuinely intriguing topics in the classroom taught by some absolutely brilliant professors who carry a wide range of industry experience. I went from looking at the clock waiting to leave, to looking at the clock not wanting to run out of time. In the Embry-Riddle classroom, I can say with certainty pretty much all of my professors have been kind and understanding, have had a strong desire to help students succeed. The best of all is that they come from a lot of diverse backgrounds with a ton of industry experience.

Our 1/2 scale model of the Wright Flyer hangs proudly in the lobby of our Academic Complex 1 which was completed in 2003, the centennial anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ pioneering flight.

The fact that a professor has experience in the industry is not something I thought too much about prior to coming to college, but I can say it is the principal thing that have made classes enjoyable for me. Getting to hear a presentation made by a retired military or airline pilot about the aircraft they flew and the experiences they had or listening to an interesting business lecture from someone who held a real-world management position at one of the world’s largest corporations are experiences that I have had and greatly cherish. It makes the classroom feel a thousand times more interesting.

Our new STEM Education Center features both an R-22 Helicopter given to us by universal Helicopters and a King Air propeller given to us by Raisbeck Engineering.

Lastly, one of the great parts of going to class in my mind is the manageable classroom sizes. The largest class I have ever had at Embry-Riddle had somewhere near 40 people in it, and I have only ever needed to take a couple of those. That is nothing like the 300-person lecture halls I had worried about when coming to college. Our average class size is around 25, but I can tell you that there are many classes you will have much smaller than that. I have had numerous labs and other classes that seated around 9 or 10 people. For me, this really was the way to learn. I like to be a part of the class, raising my hand often and having a professor who knows my name and respects me as a student, not just be a number in a large crowd.

College brings with it a lot of cool experiences. You will have a lot of fun at Embry-Riddle doing a lot of activities outside of the classroom. Like with any college, however, there will be a part of your day that will be spent in class. Why not attend college at a place where the classes are genuinely fun and interesting?

Halfway to Space

By Cooper Eastwood

This blog is an update to Cooper’s first blog: Aiming for Space with a Fully Reusable Rocket

Hi again! I am Cooper Eastwood, an Aeronautical Engineering sophomore and co-investigator of the Embry-Riddle Suborbital Reusable Vehicle. The whole world put itself on pause and everyone felt the effects. I know that at my home in Los Angeles many businesses and everyday workers have been forced inside due to the pandemic. Online learning, commerce, and communication became the new norm. I and many others have witnessed the whole world adapt and change in only a few months. Now almost a year later much has changed but the goal is always the same: to get to space cheaper and more often.

The Embry-Riddle Suborbital Reusable Vehicle (ERAU-SRV) team transitioned completely online during the summer period. Gaurav Nene and I stayed on task even in different parts of the country through video calls and scheduled meetings. Our small integrated team dynamic allowed us an easy transition as we can continue working diligently on the next steps of development whenever necessary. During this time, we submitted the lengthy and necessary documentation for unguided commercial suborbital vehicle launch approval at Spaceport America. We coordinated documentation with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Then in June 2020 we received the launch approval for a future date in 2021. We are taking our two-stage launch vehicle past the Karman line, or 100 kilometers, and to do so we need to launch from an FAA licensed facility. As New Mexico begins the process of allowing more frequent travel to their federal sites, the team will be at Spaceport America to observe the launch facilities and finally meet the ground support members.

Me manufacturing our sustainer fins on a CNC mill

To get the final funding we needed to finish the vehicle. The College of Engineering, the Undergraduate Research Institute, and Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus opened an opportunity for student projects to win grant funding by presenting in front of the Board of Alumni. Dr. Ron Madler, Dean of the College of Engineering, extended an invitation for us to further our research and break new ground with this brand-new alumni collaboration. We submitted a proposal to the board, bidding for a chance to present. This contained our preliminary design review, our FAA package, and the AIAA published technical report regarding our avionics. We qualified as one of the top three finalists and in under a week we made our presentation. Once the dust settled, we were awarded a grant to accelerate our work! With this new thrust of momentum and enough funding to purchase the rest of the booster stage, the next step in our engineering method was to verify our vehicle.

We required a launch test of our sustainer to accomplish six objectives: verify performance and our trajectory models, qualify the structural components, validate the recovery system, validate performance of telemetry, gain experience with pre-launch operations, and gain post-launch operations experience. After five days of integration we put the vehicle on the pad at Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in Mojave, California.

The ERAU-SRV sustainer takes flight!

On December 19th, 2020 at around 12:30 PM, the rocket was launched and experienced a recovery system failure at apogee which was addressed in a 35-page post-flight report. The sustainer surpassed its goal of 31,666 feet – exactly 6 miles. The vehicle was only partially recovered due to ballistic reentry, however we received two sets of flight data from our identical on-board computers. Every piece of the rocket was sifted from the sand, meticulously inspected, and documented. By finishing the in-depth report we completed five of our six objectives and proved that we could take the step forward on construction of the booster stage to launch at Spaceport America.

Recover and inspection of the rocket underway. We found parts to the GoPro, Spot Tracker, both AIM XTRA computers, as well as all the body components. Due to this inspection we found the root cause of the failure.

Immediately after our test we welcomed a new faculty advisor as well as a member of our team. Our previous faculty advisor Dr. Michael Fabian moved on to government research and Prof. Robert Gerrick, Mechanical Engineering Chair, took the role of our mentor. William Knoblauch, a Mechanical Engineering freshman, also became a member of our team by assisting in post-flight analysis and continuing testing research on flight critical hardware. We are in the process of accepting new members aiming to grow hands on experience with suborbital launch vehicles. As our vehicle and team grow, so do our hopes of surpassing our goals.

Gaurav (left) and Me (right) holding the sustainer right before placing it on the launch rail.

When the previous post left off, we were anticipating a trip to Portland, Oregon to attend the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Student Conference Region VI and present a 30-minute presentation on our avionics system at the conference. This was cancelled only a week before taking place in March 2020 and was postponed until the same time this year. Now after resubmitting the paper to a judge’s panel for review, it was accepted to the 2021 student conference at California State Long Beach and will be taking place in April.

Being a cross-discipline undergraduate research project gives us the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of engineers who can all contribute to space flight. As we expect many more space launches, the amount of experimental data gained per flight will be exponential. After a successful launch we will be calling on all students and as well as those considering enrolling at Embry-Riddle Prescott to form ideas, build hardware, and program experiments for the vehicle. These will all be taken to space, an environment that can be exclusively reached repeatedly only at Embry-Riddle. If you have a great idea and a goal, you really can get to space with the College of Engineering and the Undergraduate Research Institute’s backing.

The Trace Evidence Analysis of Makeup

by MaeLee DeVries

My name is MaeLee DeVries and I am a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Prescott, Arizona. I am majoring in Forensic Biology and I am interested in trace evidence, which is why I chose the research topic of trace evidence of makeup. We’ve all seen it on crime shows, there’s a piece of evidence that could not have been found, but somehow the investigators are always able to trace it back to the perpetrator in the end. While that is not wholly reality, it is not completely far from the truth either. Trace evidence can be very difficult to deal with because it is difficult to see, difficult to handle, and even more difficult to avoid cross contamination. However, if done properly, the analysis performed on trace evidence can corroborate stories and determine the truth. This is why I wanted to do this research because the more data there is, the stronger statistical values can be, which can create more conclusive evidence. Hopefully, this research helps contribute to a usable and searchable database for makeup to help investigators speed up investigation processes and be more objective in their investigations. After all, objectivity is one of the main goals of evidence-based research because it excludes bias and seeks the truth.

To be able to do this research, I had the privilege of receiving a Space Grant and being selected to be funded for an Ignite Undergraduate Research Project during the fall semester of 2020. The goal of this research was to support and develop a method for easily distinguishing the morphological and chemical features of various lipsticks and eyeshadow palette samples. There is a lot of data that still needs to be collected in trace evidence analysis of makeup research to fill the gap of information that exists; therefore, this research will demonstrate nondestructive analysis techniques that can help trace the evidence back to its source by providing more data that can be utilized in crime laboratories to assist in solving crimes. As the project leader and the only student on this project, my duties were to prepare the research samples, analyze the samples using a light microscope, Fourier-Transform Electron Microscopy (FTIR), and learn how to use the Scanning Electron Microscope in tandem with an Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (SEM/EDS) to analyze the potentially toxic chemicals within and individualistic characteristics of the different brands of makeup samples

Highly esteemed engineer, Dr. Lanning, teaching me how to use the SEM/EDS.

In this research my mentor, Dr. Teresa Eaton and I studied three different brands of eyeshadow and two different brands of lipstick. Originally, we were going to study six different brands of eyeshadow palettes; however, due to this being my last semester, time constraints did not allow me to study all of the samples I would have liked to; therefore, we studied palettes from Maybelline, Revlon, and Milani and a red lipstick sample and a pink lipstick sample each from Milani, and Wet n Wild. I did, however, run into some hiccups along the way, which is nothing new if you are familiar with research. First, preparing the samples took much longer than expected due to the meticulous cleaning and recleaning of materials to avoid cross contamination. When dealing with evidence, this is paramount. The second problem I ran into had to do with the SEM/EDS. While I was in the middle of viewing and analyzing my samples, the filament on the SEM/EDS burned out, putting my entire project to a halt. The filament allows for the visualization of the samples because that is where the electron beam originates, which without, the visualization is not possible. Obviously, I cannot research blindly; however, the kind Dr. Lanning (pictured above) came to my rescue, replacing the filament within hours. These roadblocks were impeding, but I got past them and was able to complete what I could of my research.

I analyzed a total of 37 samples viewed under the light microscope and analyzed using FTIR and 41 on the SEM/EDS, so a lot of samples were run, just not all of the samples I wanted to analyze. The techniques used were not invasive, other than the SEM/EDS and were able to discriminate between palettes, but not individual samples. FTIR was not invasive and quick, but only showed a fingerprint, while SEM/EDS was destructive, but showed the chemical composition and only used a very small amount of sample.

Optical Microscopy Images

FTIR Spectra and Data

Graph 1. Sub-sample 1b compared to TALC in an FTIR spectrum.
Graph 2. Sub-sample 2b compared to Silicon in an FTIR spectrum.

As you can see, Figure 1, 2, and 3 demonstrate the light microscopic view of a Milani eyeshadow sample, a Maybelline eyeshadow sample, and a Revlon eyeshadow sample, respectively. In my observations, I noted signature red-pink circular particles in nearly all of the Milani eyeshadow colors, which can help distinguish the samples from other palettes. In the Maybelline reflective eyeshadow sample glass-like and other reflective and metallic-like particles were noted, which were consistent with most of the shiny and glimmering samples. The Revlon eyeshadow was fine and fibrous, which was common throughout the more neutral and less glittery and shiny eyeshadows.

Graphs 1 and 2 are both FTIR spectra and show that there is a broad band at around 1000 in both sub-samples 1b and 2b. This was the same amongst nearly all of them, but other peaks helped differentiate between palettes based on what the chemical fingerprint was most likely related to. Most of the sub-samples from Sample 1 (Maybelline) were related to TALC, most of the sub-samples from Sample 2 (Revlon) were related to silicon, and most of the sub-samples from Sample 4 (Milani) were related to paraffin. This simple information is significant due to the differentiation it provides between palettes.

SEM/EDS Images and Data

Figure 4 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 2a by Revlon. The elemental composition is shown to the right demonstrating that there are two heavy metals that were not expected to be within this sample, Tc and Bi. Both are not toxic at low levels.

Figure 5 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 1i by Maybelline, which demonstrates expected heavy metals such as Fe, Cu, and Zn.

Figure 6 shows the SEM image of eyeshadow sub-sample 4e by Milani. Again, expected heavy metal content is observed as well as cylinders of carbon suspected to be some form of microplastics.

Figure 7 shows the SEM image of lipstick sample 16 by Wet n wild. Expected chemical composition is seen.

Finally, Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7 show the images from the SEM and the chemical composition from the EDS for eyeshadow and lipstick samples. Figure 6 shows that there are some heavier more toxic chemicals in the sample compared to the other samples, but these chemicals are not toxic to humans at very low quantities. There were no distinct chemical differences between the palettes other than Sample 2, which had Technetium and/or Bismuth in several of the samples. The SEM images were quite fascinating to look at, and while each sample did look different in its own way, it would be a subjective way to look at evidence and as I said earlier, that is not the goal of trace evidence.

This image shows me preparing the eyeshadow makeup samples and preventing cross contamination where possible.

My final results for this research project indicated that the chemical analysis techniques, FTIR and EDS, can potentially differentiate between palettes, but not individual sub-samples, while the optical microscopy techniques, light microscopy, and SEM, may be useful in differentiating between sub-samples in color and morphology. However, as I mentioned above, this process is much more subjective, and it is important to have objective methods of analysis in trace evidence. This analysis is not discriminatory enough by itself to differentiate between individual sub-samples, though it may be useful for differentiating between palettes. In the end, there was ample data gathered that demonstrated elemental, morphological, and spectroscopic properties of the samples for results and future analyses.

In conclusion, I hope this is not the end of this research because there is so much potential that this type of research has to assist crime laboratories in reaching the truth faster and more objectively. The opportunity I have had with this research project has yielded great experience and understanding for me in the future. Personally, I want to be a forensic DNA analyst, which must be an objective analysis technique, because the main goal is providing the truth. Not who we think did it. DNA analysis uses databases, which are crucial to conclusions; however, DNA cannot act alone in submission of evidence. Stories and other trace evidence must align in order for the truth to be found; therefore, other forms of trace evidence are vital and necessary. I love science and the potential it holds. After all, it is prepared to provide the truth, if we handle and analyze it properly.

Preparing for a Summer Internship During the Height of COVID-19

by Grace Day

Hi! My name is Grace Day, and I am a senior Aerospace Engineering student here at Embry-Riddle, Prescott. On campus, I am involved in the Alpha Xi Delta sorority as the former Member Development VP, the Membership VP, and most recently the Chapter Life VP. I also am a part of the Women’s Ambassador Program as the Treasurer and former Public Relations VP. I work part time (up to 25 hours a week) as a Campus Ambassador, a tour guide, for the admissions department and I am a TA/grader for a few engineering classes. On top of my work, full engineering course load, and some sleeping, I am also still a part time intern for Lockheed Martin Space in Waterton Canyon, Colorado.

I have spent my past summers as an engineering intern at companies like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin gaining valuable experience and making lifelong friends. I spent the summers after my freshman and sophomore years in Redondo Beach, California working as a Systems Engineering Intern for Northrop Grumman and this past summer as a System Engineering Intern for Lockheed Martin up in the Denver area. I was fortunate to be able to work in person during the pandemic, however it was a much different experience than my previous internships.

For starters, I was the only intern in my area while most of my coworkers were at least a few years out of college. Many people worked part time from home, but my work required I be in the office on special computers, meaning somedays I was the only one in until lunch. I also supported a very fast paced, always changing team that focused on system architecture. Architecting a space system is not an easy thing, it requires so much background knowledge and experience, something I did not have. Before the summer started, I reached out to my manager asking what I could do to best prepare for my summer in Denver. My manager suggested I learn a program called Systems Tool Kit, or STK. The program is a modeling software for any and all types of systems from airplanes, to submarines, to spacecraft. The company offers free online training and licenses for students and professionals, so I jumped on it right away. This was all right after COVID-19 shut down our university and allowed me a bit more free time to focus on learning STK.

STK offers three levels of training from a basic understanding of the software to very specific situation-based modeling protocols. I chose to do it all. The first certification took me about one week to learn and consisted of an 8-hour exam at the end. I passed this course and moved on the intermediate level, which took me a bit longer. Right before I started the second level STK posted a blog announcing the first 100 people to pass the exam would win a free t-shirt with the logo. I jumped right into the training and after two weeks of learning I took the next 8-hour exam and passed (and got my free t-shirt).

The last certification is student’s choice where you pick four of seven categories to master. The seven track options are Track 1: STK Essentials, Track 2: Analysis Workbench, Track 3: STK Coverage, Track 4: Aircraft, Track 5: Communications, Track 6: Spacecraft Trajectory, and Track 7: Space Environment. I chose to pursue tracks 3, 5, 6 and 7 because they were most applicable to my job and my interests. It took me about 4 days to student for each one and a 4-8 hour exam at the end. As I passed each one, I got a small cube, shown in the image. One I passed all four required for the last certification, I was awarded with the large glass cube, a certificate, a pin, and a lanyard.

Glass cube options from Analytical Graphics, Inc.

From doing this course, I was extremely prepared to go into my internship as a useful employee, and help my team win many proposals. Even now as a part time intern through this school year I have been able to help out whenever I can.

I just signed my full time offer to be a System Engineer at Lockheed Martin with my same team and am very excited to be moving up there in May of 2021! It has been an amazing almost four years here at Embry-Riddle and am so happy for the education I have.

Thank you so much for reading about preparing for internship during COVID-19!

From Embry-Riddle Student to Forensic Investigator

My name is Veronica Rodriguez. I am a senior majoring in Forensic Biology with a minor in Psychology. What made me interested in majoring in Forensic Biology was wanting to understand the fundamentals of forensics. I had the mentally that it is just like the television shows. Unfortunately, it was not what I had expected. It challenged me in so many ways. I am truly thankful for everything that I have learned with this major. It has taught me to work for the truth and to find the facts. I choose Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University due to its amazing reputation. It also has a great Biology and Chemistry Department that has been very supportive in the process. Throughout my courses at Embry-Riddle it has prepared me for one of the best experiences in my educational career.

In the summer of 2020, I was able to obtain an internship with Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office in Prescott Valley, Arizona. I was hired as an intern and my duties were to assist the medicolegal death investigators (MDIs) and the forensic pathologist. This office is unique since the MDIs not only investigate their cases and go to scenes but, they also help perform autopsies with the forensic pathologist as well. I was super nervous at first since I had no idea what to expect on my first day at the office.

After being more comfortable at the office, I attended death scenes and interacted with other law enforcement agencies to conduct proper investigations. I learned how to properly document photos of the decedent, property, and evidence with a digital camera. I was really proud of myself that I was able to apply what I have learned in my courses to real life. I also learned the process of how the MDIs produce reports, gather information, and create death certificates. Other responsibilities I had during the internship were to perform autopsies, take toxicology specimens, and take fingerprints of the decedent on my own.

Documenting body bag seal to prove that it was not tampered with.

Embry-Riddle has prepared me for this internship with the courses I have taken. Anatomy and Physiology has allowed me to understand the different organs and the functions of the body. It has also taught me how the body is supposed to work and what happens when something goes wrong. Trace Evidence and Investigative Methods and Forensics allowed me to understand how a scene is investigated and how to collect evidence in a way that preserves it; this knowledge was useful when I had to retrieve fingernail clippings from a homicide victim. Procedural Law and Evidence course allowed me to be familiar with the importance of search warrants, chain of custody, and the Arizona statutes that apply for the Medical Examiner’s Office. Being able to apply the knowledge from my courses further reinforced what I have learned and made it clearer during my internship.

Macerating remains to be sent to University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.

This internship has allowed me to find a career path that I really enjoy. I have had many great memories and experiences, and it will be something that I will never forget. Once I graduate, I want to get my certification in the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigation. I was recently hired at the District 7 Medical Examiner’s Office in Daytona Beach as a Forensic Investigator/Forensic Technician. If it weren’t for my education at Embry-Riddle I wouldn’t have been able to obtain an internship that later landed me a job!

My Experience at Northrop Grumman as a Freshman

by Devon Kisfalvi

A picture of me at Willow Lake near the Embry-Riddle Campus.

My name is Devon Kisfalvi and I’m a part of the class of 2023. My major is Electrical Engineering with a minor in Systems Engineering. My amazing internship experience started January of 2020 before the start of the Spring 2020 semester. This internship wouldn’t have been possible without Embry-Riddle. I had just finished my first semester of freshman year, and became a member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Club on campus. Through them I was able to get a membership with IEEE, learn about the 2020 IEEE Rising Stars Conference, and was able to attend. There I saw Northrop Grumman had set up a table. I went over and introduced myself, and after talking with them they asked for a resume. One of the managers from the Gilbert, AZ office who was at the conference offered me a summer internship.

The internship started May 2020 and was amazing! Even though coronavirus affected most of the in-person events being held, Northrop Grumman was able to still offer multiple opportunities for the interns to meet people and learn more about the company. During my internship I was working with the avionics team on two different projects. The first was working with the internal research and development team on looking for new parts to improve one of the critical systems of a satellite project. This research involved replacing one of the components that would have to be specifically constructed to meet the requirements set by Northrop Grumman and NASA. I communicated with a handful of companies that manufacture those components to ensure that they would meet Northrop Grumman’s and NASA’s requirements.

The second task I worked on with my mentor was collecting documentation for the Landsat 9 (L9) team on the Integrated Electronics Module (IEM) focusing on End Item Data Package (EIDP), which is the final stage of after environmental testing. The documents that needed to be included were parts lists, assembly drawings, among other reports.

Construction of the Landsat 9 at Northrop Grumman.

Even though I was just a freshman, the relevant coursework I have taken so far helped me out a lot, like Intro to Engineering (EGR 101), Digital Circuit (CEC 220), and Digital Circuit Design (CEC 222). EGR 101 has helped develop my teamwork skills to effectively communicate and work with teams of any size. CEC 220 helped me understand the coding of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA), logic of electrical circuits, and how logic circuits connect to create complex devices. CEC 222 helped me understand the basic components of electrical circuits and how they worked. All these classes helped me with my internship.

The Landsat 9 that I worked on at Northrop Grumman.

Even though you might only be a freshman there is still a possibility for you to be able to do an internship with a company. One thing that employers look for is how you act and how you present yourself. One key aspect is communication, both verbal and written. Anyone can come up with amazing ideas, but you need to be able to communicate them. You also will most likely be working with teams of people and you need to be able to communicate with your team to be successful. You also have to remember how you present yourself to employers. You must be professional, but you also must be yourself. Go into any possible situation with a smile and make sure to introduce yourself. Start a conversation with them. For example, you could ask a question about the company or something specific that interests you. This shows that you are interested in their company, and leads them to asking you questions about yourself. Embry-Riddle has helped me out so much and as you stay open and professional, anything is possible.

Internship During the Times of COVID

by Stephen Mouhanna

My name is Stephen Mouhanna and I am a Senior majoring in Software Engineering. This past summer I got the awesome opportunity to intern with Microsoft as a Software Engineer in the Cloud and AI Security Group. I was born and raised in Washington State, growing up 10 miles from Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. As a Senior in the Software Engineering program at ERAU, working as a developer for Microsoft is a dream occupation for me.

Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, Washington

I belong to an organization known as Lime Connect which partners with companies in providing scholarships and internship opportunities for high school Seniors and college students. Microsoft is one of those partners and they reached out to me through email. They said after reviewing my resume, they thought I would be a good fit for their internship program and if I were interested, I should apply. I did and a couple weeks later they scheduled an online test to check my coding skills. If you pass this test, then you move onto a phone interview. The phone interview mainly consisted of questions regarding why I am interested in working with Microsoft and what I know about the company. At the end of the interview the recruiter asked me two tech related questions. Both questions involved me explaining a certain piece of technology. The first question was no issue, but the second was to explain what threads are and what they are used for in a computer. I was honest in my reply stating that I did not know the answer, however I made sure to mention that I would be taking an operating system’s class during the Fall semester where I would learn about threads. The recruiter seemed happy with that answer and told me that I would hear back on my results in just a couple weeks. A couple weeks eventually turned into a month and I was starting to wonder if I would ever hear back but finally I got a message in my inbox informing me that they would be interested in doing a second round of interviews with me; this time in person at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

I was overjoyed with the news. To prepare for the next round of interviews that was just a couple weeks away I got the book Cracking the Coding Interview. This book breaks down interviews by company and what questions are typically asked by that company. It was a great buy because several of the technical questions I was asked were directly out of the book. this was all extremely exciting because this was the first time that a company has flown me anywhere. I was contacted by the Microsoft Travel team which organized everything I would need for a round-trip flight and two-night stay in Washington State. After I confirmed my travel plans with Microsoft, I then spoke with my professors about the class time that I would be missing and makeup work.

I was nervous the morning of my interviews when I arrived at Microsoft Building 111. I spent some time with the other recruits at a pre-interview breakfast. While we ate the organizers talked about the company and what to expect throughout the day. After breakfast, each interviewee was assigned a room where the interviews would take place. We would spend about an hour with one interviewer and then the interviewers would rotate to another person. I was interviewed by four different employees that all worked for the same group. Two of the employees asked questions about me and my background and the other two asked me more technical questions that involved me writing code on a whiteboard that was in the room. When writing code on the board we could write in any programming language that we wanted. Most of the other interviewees chose to write their code in Python, I decided to go with C# as that what I was most familiar with and I knew that it was the main language used by many Microsoft developers. All in all, the interviews took about 6 hours from arrival to leaving the building with breakfast and lunch included.

I flew back to Arizona satisfied with my performance during my interviews. I was told that I would hear back in about two weeks. Luckily, I only had to wait about three days when I got a call from my recruiter congratulating me on my job offer. All I had to do to accept it was go to Microsoft’s career site and sign the document digitally. I worked with my recruiter to flesh out some details such as start date and I could relax for the rest of the school year knowing I had a job for the summer.

Not long after accepting my offer I was assigned the team I would spend the summer working with. I was contacted by the team manager who wanted to introduce me to the team briefly over a video call. Since I was going back to Washington State for Christmas break, I suggested that maybe we could do an in-person meeting instead. They thought it was a great idea and I got to have lunch with the team in one of the Microsoft cafeterias. My mentor from the team gave me some documentation for a tool that I would be using to review before I came back for the summer. They also gave me a tour of the building that I would be working in.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to work on the Microsoft campus because the pandemic began before my start date. Microsoft employees were ordered to work from home beginning in mid-March and they still haven’t returned. Currently they have a tentative return date of January 2021. A decision was made to move the internship program to remote internships. This caused managers to scramble to reinvent how an internship was done. Interns who were not living in Canada or the United States would lose their internships for this summer and for those close to graduating they would be put into the system to be considered for hiring.

When Embry-Riddle went to online classes in March 2020, I decided to move home to Washington State to finish my classes and do my internship. In April, I was contacted by my mentor on the team and we kept in touch via email until my start date when he could officially talk to me over Microsoft Teams. All my computer hardware was shipped to me prior to my start date. The team administrator had sent me an email notifying me to be on the lookout for a box of components to be delivered within two weeks of my start date. Every time a package would come to the door I would run down and interrogate whoever had brought the package in if it was coming from Microsoft or not. The box of hardware happened to arrive only a day or so before I was due to start, resulting in many points of false hope at seeing a delivery truck pull up to the house only for it not to be the package I’d been anticipating.

Opening my hardware shipment.

The hardware I was given included a Microsoft Surface, docking station, a nice monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I worked with my mentor who helped me get oriented with the code base and threw in some useful tips about the tools I would be using. There were some minor hiccups relating to being remote but overall, it was a smooth on-boarding process.

My team had one meeting every day where we would talk about what our plan was for that day. My end goal for the summer was to create a data aggregation and insights tool so that my team could better understand how our service was being utilized. I would work with my mentor, talking with him every few days, creating a road map on how to reach this goal. My first task was to access the usage data for our service using CosmosDb. Once I could access the data, I would have to present the data on our website. From there I gradually added insights on the data, which compiled useful information about the data.

Doing the back-end of the website was easy for me because it was all done in C#, however I do wish I had known more JavaScript before my internship. JavaScript would have been a huge help adding more functionality to the website and would have given me more tools for adding graphics to the site like various charts.

I got to learn about a lot of tools that typical software developers use. One of these tools being Key Vault which is used as a way to access what we call “secrets” in code. A secret is a string that we don’t want just anyone to have access to. A typical secret would be something like a connection string to a database or an authorization key. one last interesting tool was our internal deployment visualizer. This tool is my favorite by far. Not because it’s a particularly interesting tool but because watching my service deployment progress gave me an intense feeling of satisfaction and pride to know that I was able to contribute something meaningful to a company as important in the tech field as Microsoft.

Visualization of the Deployment of my Service

The last week of my internship was a busy week of what is called “Intern Check-Out”. This included recording myself giving a PowerPoint presentation of my project since we were unable to meet in person. The Leadership Team viewed the intern presentations then we were assigned a Q&A session with the Leadership Team. Since we didn’t know what questions were going to be asked, we needed to be prepared and make sure our projects worked so we could demonstrate them. Check-out time also included reviews from my manager and my mentor. I was given feedback on my strengths and weaknesses. Then my manager gave me an invitation to come back next summer and intern with them again. I immediately said yes but I was warned it was up to HR if I could return to the same team even though my manager put in a request for my return to them. I have committed to returning to Microsoft, but they will not tell me where I have been assigned until later this Fall.

During my internship I applied and was accepted into the Microsoft Student Ambassador Program. If you are interested in a software engineering position at Microsoft please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to expand on my experience or help you in applying for your own Microsoft internship. You can reach out to me at StephenMo@studentambassadors.com.

A Great Start to Senior Year

by Bria Booth

Hello everyone! Summer has finally ended. This year, I felt so ready to get back into classes. It’s been about six months since I’ve been able to see friends and learn in a classroom. I moved back to Prescott two weeks ago to celebrate my friend Vee’s birthday.

Our freshman year, Vee and I lived in the same dorm! We met on the “Schools App” a few months before move-in and got to know each other. Though we don’t live together anymore, she’s become one of my closest friends. The people that I met my freshman year are all so important to me. We’ve grown and faced challenges together. Our friend Grace falls into that same category. She was a part of my orientation group, and we ended up getting along really well. Grace and Vee have been my family while away from home. We all made sure to socially distance before seeing each other in person. We’ve been keeping to pretty small social circles during the summer, so it was nice to be able to hang out with friends.

To celebrate Vee’s birthday, we visited Grace’s parents in Tubac. We spent a few relaxing days there swimming, looking after newly acquired plants, and making pizza. When we got back to Prescott, Vee planned a socially distanced birthday outing with a larger group of friends. We all brought blankets and masks and shared stories from summer.

Classes are quite a bit different than last year. About half the time, I meet with my class online, and when classes are in-person, we sit at every other chair. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t going to be an odd semester, but I’m really looking forward to my classes. So far, I’m the most excited about my Capstone. Yesterday we were assigned our groups and projects. I’ll be working on Attitude Reaction Wheels. Our group is picking up where a capstone team from last year left off.

At Embry-Riddle in Prescott, an Engineers Capstone project takes two semesters. The first is focused on Preliminary Design and the second is Detail Design. The goal is to have a prototype built by the end of our senior year. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’ve started work on the biggest project of my four years at Embry-Riddle.

Over the last week, I’ve had so many people reach out about my first blog post! I’m happy to see that so many people seem to be excited about it. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences on campus, but I’d also love to hear from you about what you’d like to hear about. Feel free to comment on this blog post with subjects you’d like me to write about!

Honeywell Urban Air Mobility

By Henrik Hoffmann

Hi, I am Henrik Hoffmann a rising Aerospace Engineering senior, and during my junior year I had the privilege to work on the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) project with Embry-Riddle’s Undergraduate Research Institute (URI), which was sponsored by Honeywell Aerospace for the fall and spring semester. Through the support of the URI, Dr. Johann Dorfling, and with the support of Honeywell engineers, UAMs flight testing and data analysis started at the end of our summer internship and is planned to finish during the 2020 fall semester.

The purpose of this project for my junior school year and summer internship was to characterize the power requirements, climb profile, and descent profile capabilities of various simulated UAMs. I also helped define required UAM flight capabilities, most efficient flight paths, and UAM limitations. Multiple configurations and concepts of UAM aircraft are being proposed, designed, and built by a variety of companies such as Airbus, Joby Aviation, Kitty Hawk, Lilium, Terrafugia, Uber Air, VA-1X and Volocopter. Concepts for these UAMs include multirotor, fixed wing, and rotating rotor wing designs.

Me (third from right) with the rest of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University UAM Team after presenting to the Honeywell representatives.

To join this project, our team had to submit a resume and letter of recommendation to Honeywell to get an interview. Our team consists of six Embry-Riddle students, our mentor Dr. Dorfling, as well as multiple Honeywell engineers. The major job of our first semester was to submit a survey to Honeywell that included a design of our drone, flight test plans, wind tunnel test plans, and a characterization of our drone compared to previous UAM designs. During the second semester we built our UAM, and 3-D printed a compartment designed to better help predict and characterize UAMs similar to ours.

Due to Covid-19, our project was not finished over the school year and got pushed into our summer internship. As a result, our internship was conducted virtually, and our project’s progress was slowed. But over the summer, small test flights took place along with error analysis, and I worked with Honeywell Aerospace’s Electrical Power Group in Torrance, California on the Next Generation Jammer Program (NGJ). My work with the NGJ tested mid band as well as low band performance calculation of the Ram Air Turbines Generation (RATG).

Over this summer of 2020, Bell conducted the first customer flight test of UAM designs our team worked on, and I can see where the research my team and I are doing will be implemented in the future. Our team’s UAM project will continue over the 20/21 school year and will include our first test flight. That will allow us to analyze the data to predict the optimal flight takeoff and landing paths for our UAM design. The upcoming Honeywell UAM Team will include a mix of returning team members as well as new juniors to finish off the project. Once our project is finished up the same process will be restarted with another UAM type, and could include multirotor, fixed wing, or rotating rotor designs.

Our visit to the Honeywell location in Deer Valley, Ariz.

The experiences I gained with my team and during my summer internship has been amazing. Working on this project has allowed me to apply what I have learned from the classroom and to see how our work will change transportation around the world. Our internship has also allowed me to experience Honeywell’s corporate environment and further my understanding of UAM. I have enjoyed this project and would highly recommend this opportunity to anyone!