http://www.textron.com/newsroom/featured_stories/02_03_2009.jsp

 

For the 18 students who participated in two recent Bell engineering boot camps, the experience was exciting, inspiring and – to be honest – exhausting. Still, the engineering students from six Texas universities wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 

The two weeklong boot camps, held in December and January at Bell’s military aircraft assembly center in Amarillo, Texas, and Bell’s aircraft facility in Fort Worth, Texas, provided opportunities for both the students and Bell. This is the second year that Bell has sponsored the engineering boot camps.

 

Showing students the real world of engineering

For the students, the week-long camps are a chance to work at a major aerospace business, see firsthand what engineers do and tackle a real-world engineering problem.

 

For Bell, the boot camps are a way to inspire and recruit engineering students, allowing senior leaders to assess the potential of these future engineers and get them excited about opportunities within Bell and Textron.

 

“This is a new way of getting exposure on campus rather than a career fair, on-campus interviews or a company-sponsored barbeque,” says Carolyn D. Tobin, Bell’s manager of Engineering Quality, who served as one of the two boot camp directors.

 

“It also gives the executive leadership team exposure to engineering students and the talents they offer,” she says. “This is important in the current environment where the U.S. is not graduating enough engineers to support the demands of the industry.”

 

For their part, students enjoyed the opportunity to be at Bell. “This was a real-world experience. This wasn’t being in a classroom with the answers in the back of the book,” says Rogelio Martinez, a mechanical engineering student and senior at West Texas A&M University. “We had to find a way to complete the project.”

 

An intense week of challenges

Each boot camp had a different assignment. For the eight West Texas A&M and Texas Tech students at the Amarillo site, their challenge was to develop a better way to keep a V-22 Osprey grounded during initial tests, or ground runs, of the aircraft. 

 

For the ten students from Texas A&M, University of Texas, University of North Texas and the University of Texas-El Paso who were at the Fort Worth facility, the project was to conceptualize and provide recommendations for the design and location of Bell Helicopter’s “Factory of the Future” with a focus on final assembly.

 

Two Bell engineers served as “drill sergeants” for each boot camp, leading the students through the projects, serving as their technical support, and chaperoning them to outside activities.

 

“It’s pretty intense. We kicked it off on a Saturday and it was non-stop until Friday afternoon,” says Mark Laney, one of the two drill sergeants of the Amarillo boot camp.

 

“Being right there in the mix of everything, physically measuring the aircraft, doing calculations on it, talking to the shop guys, it was a really neat experience – a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Justin Rivera, a junior at Texas Tech majoring in mechanical engineering.

 

From students to future employees

The students take their experiences back to campus (along with their Bell t-shirts) and spread the word about their time at Bell.

 

Martinez is one of those who is high on Bell, and would be interested in returning as a summer intern or a full-time employee. “I would love to go to Bell,” he says. “I loved the atmosphere and the things they do are amazing.”

 

Image:  Bell’s engineering boot camp students examining the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft

Students who participated in Bell’s engineering boot camp in Amarillo, Texas examine the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft as they begin their project.