Internship at Teledyne Continental Motors

This article is part of Summer Stories, a special, online issue of Dukengineer Magazine, in which students wrote about their experiences in the Summer of 2007 during their time away from Duke.

by Ryan Bird, ME ‘10

ryanbird.jpgI spent the summer following my freshman year in an internship with a company called Teledyne Continental Motors – Turbine Engines located in Toledo, Ohio. Teledyne is a very diverse industrial conglomerate company with both domestic and global interests. The Turbine Engines division that I worked for is known as a leader in the field of small aircraft turbine engines. They have created engines for cruise missiles for the US Navy Harpoon program, Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program, and other missiles, drones, and unmanned aircraft.

I obtained this internship by spending a significant amount of time my freshman year networking and attempting to talk with people in various aerospace companies that I was interested in working for. I also talked to some Duke professors who have experience and have performed research in aerospace fields. It was Dr. Kielb of the MEMS department who introduced me to Teledyne.

My primary work as an intern was computer-aided design. Teledyne uses the Unigraphics Computer Assisted Design software package. I worked mostly with the lead manufacturing engineer at Teledyne designing and developing tools for the assembly, disassembly, and testing of several engine models. This was very interesting because I was able to gain familiarity with different parts of the engine and understand how turbojets and turbofans work.

In addition to computer design for tooling, I also gained some exposure to the other operations in the Teledyne facility. After the design, review, and release of my tools, I saw the actual assembly areas. Getting to see that other aspect of operation, where digital designs become physical parts, and seeing how sometimes unforeseen problems can arise was very helpful in understanding the engineering process more fully.

There were also two unique things I was able to do during my internship. I helped with the testing and calibration of a hydrogen torch. Multiple tests were run to determine the proper mix of hydrogen and oxygen that would generate heat and extend the necessary distance beyond nozzle. The flame, while invisible, burned around 3000 degrees Fahrenheit and was hot enough to begin to melt the thermocouples we used to test it. Probably the most unique experience I had, however, was witnessing an engine test. I was only an observer, but watching and listening to tens of thousands of horsepower was very impressive. Even through a concrete wall and acoustical dampers, the noise was deafening. I can only imagine how loud and powerful the large commercial jet engines are.

Having an internship was immeasurably beneficial because it gave me experience in so many areas. I learned a hundred times more about jet engines in one summer than I had known previously. I was also afforded the opportunity to do some pretty cool things with both physical parts and computer design and got to see how a typical workplace functions. I’m very grateful that I was able to use the opportunities at Duke to find an internship that I found both useful and enjoyable.