2018 Spring Break Host a Panther Externships at Lockheed Martin

These 11 students spent their spring break working towards furthering their careers and learned what it takes to work for a major corporation through the Host a Panther Externship Program.

Brian Fossati

It truly made a difference to me that this experience was more than just sitting and watching everyone work; but instead I was thrown behind Kevin’s desk the very first day and started creating parts that would later contribute to the team’s project. At the end of the first day, and especially after visiting the MSU, I realized that the work I did actually assisted the progression of the team. This had a big impact on me because it meant that I was gaining real experience and an understanding as to what it means to work as an engineer.

The time that I spent working ended up being so much more beneficial, and meaningful than I could had ever anticipated in such a short time at Lockheed. Being able to go out to the different sites and see, firsthand, the parts we were creating in Creo and later using that experience to further improve our work was immensely valuable. On the final tour, I used a PAM to crawl through a missile tube, and then came back to the office to unexpectedly find Kendyl working on that exact same model. Once the realization of what she was working on hit, I became extremely eager to bombard her with questions, as I’m sure I had become known for doing. During my attendance at a relatively long meeting, I acquired new information about project management and engineering considerations that I was then able to directly apply to my Senior Design team and school work. Each of these experiences helped to improve my skills as an engineer, and further increase my interest in the field.

Brian Nyffenegger

For my externship, I was embedded in Lockheed Martin’s Fleet ballistic Missile (FBM) program. The FBM program develops and maintains the Trident missile, a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The Cape Canaveral division provides support for test launches of the missile, as well as development of support equipment.

My Person of Contact (POC) was a systems engineering lead for the Common Missile Compartment program, a launch tube for both US and UK subs. Since I had previously shadowed a systems engineering team, the expected briefings and exercises on sys. Engineering was not necessary. Unlike the previous externship, where I was dropped into the team, Lockheed Martin had a much more planned externship, which featured more tours. The employees I shadowed held a much more senior position in the division, which often meant that observed meetings were very much removed from technical aspects of the projects. While I could gleam useful information from these, I had a hard time staying engaged with the heavy focus on project management, which is not my intended career field. Despite the higher level focus, I did pick up quite a bit of useful information regarding requirement management, which will be very useful for my upcoming Senior Design Capstone project.

Since the FBM program has existed for over 50 years and span multiple companies and engineering disciplines, I was able to connect with personnel from varied backgrounds, ranging from new hires to those with over 30 years in the industry.

We toured several facilities throughout the week, getting an inside glimpse at integration, training, and support divisions. We were also given demonstrations with rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing technologies which Lockheed is incorporating into their programs. A significant portion of time was also spent discussing the application process, including interviews, resume reviews, and the hiring manager’s methodology. Lockheed Martin seemed to view externship as an opportunity to recruit potential interns and employees. Our POC gave us a thorough briefing on the corporate aspects of engineering, something which could prove useful for my Senior Design project.

Reviewing the week, I gained a unique insight into the day-to-day operations of a major Defense company, as well nontechnical skills, such as requirement management, which are applicable for my Senior Design project. My POC was very open and welcoming during the whole week, and graciously opened her schedule to ensure that we were given a complete view of the FBM projects at the Cape. The tours of facilities and interviews with personnel gave me an appreciation for the scope, effort, and collaboration necessary for aerospace programs, and I hope to be able to apply this understanding to my own engineering efforts.

Brian Thereault

One of the primary reasons I [wanted] to apply for the externship was that I wanted an inside look into how companies such as Lockheed Martin operate. For my Capstone project, I am working with ULA as a contractor to design new ground support equipment for one of their new vehicles. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Lockheed Martin employees we were shadowing were doing all the things my team was doing for ULA. Forming system requirement documents, attending daily and weekly progress report meetings with other contractors and sub-contractors, developing drawings from CAD models, etc. The systems engineers and the Class 3 equipment groups were especially relevant in comparing my prior knowledge on how companies operate to my newly observed insights.

On a side note, some of the demonstrations and facility tours were very enlightening. We saw a 3D scanner like something out of science fiction, able to record the surfaces of objects and convert them into a CAD model with all the proper generation features discretized. Apparently, it’s been in use for a number of years now, too.

I already knew before shadowing that I wanted to work in the space industry, specifically in extra-planetary habitation and exploitation. I also knew this was a field that did not really exist yet. I have to admit, one of the biggest surprises I had was that an enormous amount of the work our department did was based in Civil and Structural engineering, despite being an Aerospace company and the employees themselves typically being ex-Mechanical or ex-Aerospace. Of course, I imagine this was specific to the Facilities department. My key takeaway from that was that I shouldn’t just skip over applying for jobs that seem to have nothing to do with my major. If I saw a Facilities Department opening, I would never have even bothered to investigate, despite the fact that they actually did similar work to what I’m doing now for ULA.

A lot of the advice from the Systems engineers were rather sobering. Chances are, I will likely not be able to get a job in EXACTLY what I’d like to do. That being said, I don’t mind the work I saw being done while shadowing, and Lockheed Martin seems to be very keen on allowing employees to switch between different departments to try to find something they may like better.

This experience has definitely helped me pinpoint some other areas of interest that actually exist at this time.

Christopher Dixon

For my externship, I was fortunate enough to work at Lockheed Martin at Cape Canaveral. I shadowed under Paul and other engineers in the Support Systems division. I met fellow FIT alumni and made some new connections. The experience was enlightening. I liked the overall atmosphere at Lockheed Martin. It was exciting to see how the team works together to keep the systems running and collectively come up with solutions for issues or problems regarding those systems. I also realized that this is the area of engineering I want to work in; improving the old systems or finding the modern day equivalent version of the equipment. I enjoyed seeing the different facilities, seeing the production and how everything works together. I hope that I will have the opportunity to work at Lockheed Martin someday.

Devonte Jones

My experience at Lockheed Martin was amazing. I shadowed Tammy, a Senior Subcontractor Manager of the Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) sector in Titusville. The externship gave me insight on the day-to-day tasks a subcontractor achieves to make Lockheed the top defense system company in the world. I helped develop information for employers on several suppliers and program risk management, as well as reporting to staff members for proposal meetings. I analyzed multi-million-dollar proposals in support of upcoming proposal submittals for staff members. I was able to observe internal coordination meetings, which involved supporting functions, and external planning meetings with various suppliers. I reviewed and reported the status of various supplier financials and performance for program office status meetings. I was able generate financial graphs for present and forecasted fiscal year statements for suppliers who involved Raytheon, Honeywell and Orbital ATK.

My goal for this externship was to gain organizational knowledge as well as implementing my cognitive skills to complete day-to-day tasks for my employer. I believe I accomplished my goals of networking and learning extensive acronyms in my four days with Lockheed. The best part of the externship to me was being apart of Tammy’s team. Everyone is so positive and supportive of goals and daily tasks. The group made me feel as though I was employed with the company for years, and giving me positive feedback on daily tasks I completed. My experience in this externship has giving me indescribable knowledge and confidence to pursue a future career at Lockheed Martin in the near future.

Hank Abell

Lockheed was very welcoming the first day of the externship. This hospitality continued throughout the entire week and made me realize how important a healthy and positive work environment really is. After shadowing the finance department for a week, I realized I needed to take steps to prepare/better myself before I enter the job market. Making sure I work outside of class to better myself in Excel, or even working to become Lean Six Sigma certified, would greatly increase my chances at landing a job I want. I now have a long list of things to do before I graduate to make myself more capable.



Justin Daimler

This externship has been an amazing experience and I have learned so much! I have made many connections and learned about the tasks mechanical systems engineers do on a daily base. This opportunity expanded my career goals by allowing me to look at different positions in the field of engineering. I originally had planned to just work as a design engineer somewhere. However, after talking to mechanical systems engineers, I want to work eventually as a mechanical system engineer. After sitting through several meetings, such as the CDR, there was something fulfilling about seeing the projects progress. They put in so much work overseeing the project and it is rewarding to see it all come together. I really liked how the mechanical system engineers can see the big picture of the project, tying everything together. My career plan has changed after this experience to work my way up from a position such as a design engineer to a mechanical system engineer. I also feel I should go to graduate school and obtain a master’s degree in systems engineering. This would greatly benefit my career goals. Overall, this experience was very helpful in deciding what I want to do in my career.

Karsing Fung

During the 2018 Spring Break Host a Panther Externship, I shadowed the Facility Engineering and Reentry Systems departments within Lockheed Martin Eastern Range. This experience has been enlightening in giving me an opportunity to familiarize myself with a department that I would have previously ignored and additional insight in one that I’ve been applying for. I am earning a degree in aerospace engineering and the employees that I shadowed were system engineers from backgrounds that ranged from chemistry to mechanical to civil to aerospace, all providing distinct stories of how their careers have developed. The career goals up to now have been to become a systems engineer, but this has been my first opportunity to follow and directly experience a typical day a systems engineer in the aerospace industry. This has made me realize that my education has only been addressing the technical skills that serve as a baseline for completing projects. This highlighted how my education has lacked the project management and team communication skills that continually came up for every employee that I shadowed. It isn’t just a matter of plugging away at your workstation to complete assigned tasks, it is mainly about keeping in constant contact with fellow designers, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, manufacturers and clients so that the exact progress of every component is reported and every concern is immediately scheduled to be addressed by the appropriate authorities.

This experience has motivated me to be more active in both my current job and in finding future job opportunities. By being more proactive, I can earn more experience in project management, leadership and formal team communication at my current job. Since my goal is systems engineering, I shouldn’t have tunnel vision that limits me to positions that directly involves aircraft and propulsion. They may be easier to advertise myself for as a result of my degree, but the skills and experience that I’ve already earned can be appropriated for roles that support the foundation of the organization as a whole. Another consequence of the shadowing is how career advice was vividly contextualized. I’m allowed to directly see what employees were referencing when observing their work. Rodney, a design systems engineer, cautioned me of how stressful projects initially are for new hires and Jason, lead system engineer, supported this by describing the standardized workflow of projects with continuous review and iteration.

Overall, the externship was a value experience that allowed me to get a direct look at my career goals and exposed me to departments that I wouldn’t have initially considered. If granted the opportunity to, I would attend another externship to gain familiarity other departments and continue build connections that will expand my career. Having a clear image of where my career can go is necessary motivation for staying the course and correcting it.

Nicholas Pattison

This experience was more fulfilling than I had imagined, and I am so happy to have been a part of it. My participation in this externship really validated my desire to be an engineer and it gave me the opportunity to see what industry is really like. This ensured that engineering is really what I want to do, whether it be mechanical or aerospace. I realized how vital each and every engineer at Lockheed is, and how influential they can be. I received a lot of advice regarding internships and job searching from them, and it gave me hope for my future in this field. I helped the engineers create 3D Creo models, assisted them in troubleshooting faults on cranes in the service units, and I also learned a great deal about GD&T. I firmly believe this experience helped to shape me and direct me in an engineering path that focuses on defense, as I now have a strong interest in that.

Nicholas Tolentino

It was an amazing experience and I was able to receive so much experience and knowledge about my engineering field in the real world. I was able to work a lot with the engineers in my department,  get to know what they do, and watch how they do it. It was definitely an experience I would love to do again.

Because of this externship opportunity, I was able to speak with the manager of the EE/CE department of Lockheed and he told me that he had internship opportunities over the summer in which he would like me to apply for.

Quintcey Parrish

The externship with Lockheed Martin was such a great experience. It is difficult to know if you chose the right major or right path until you enter the workforce. I feel like the externship not only showed what Lockheed Martin is like, but it confirmed that I am entering a field that I am excited and passionate about. The advice that we received from a variety of Lockheed Martin employees was invaluable. Meredith and Theo were excellent, and they had great insight and stories to share. The opportunity to spend three days with managers coaching you is such a huge step towards success. I enjoyed picking their brains for project management tips. Whether talking to Meredith and Theo or another Lockheed Martin employee, I felt comfortable asking questions and trying to learn more about FBM and its projects. Between the comfortable and positive learning environment and the intriguing projects going on, I am sold. I was interested in working for Lockheed Martin going into the externship, but now I know that it is where I want to be.


If you are interested in learning more about the Host a Panther Externship Program, please visit https://www.fit.edu/career/career-resource-center/career-exploration/.  The program is held every year during the spring academic break.

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