Industry: Engineering/Energy
Type of Internship: Mechanical Engineering, Product Design/Testing/Quality Control
Student Name: Joshua Harvey
Graduation Year: 2021
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Political Science
Position Title: Mechanical Engineering Intern
Hours: 42 hours per week
Paid or Unpaid: Paid, full-time

What do you do as an intern at this organization?
At PPG, I work alongside the staff of the engineering test lab in their efforts to test and qualify production parts from the assembly floor. Additionally, we work with the design and research teams to support their respective processes, from testing parts that are in development to simple machining and measurement. All of our work goes towards supporting the production of aerospace transparencies (windows, windshields, canopies) for both commercial and defense applications around the globe. I switch between short term projects around the test lab (e.g., integrating a new tool and device into the workflow), longer term projects (testing a product mid-development for a customer), and general quality testing of production transparencies.
How did you find this internship?
After several months of online applications, I reached out to the parent of a friend that works for PPG. They were able to forward my portfolio to the PPG engineering team at Sylmar; that team, in turn, extended me an offer.
What do you enjoy most about your internship?
I've found that some of the most enjoyable aspects of interning at PPG are when I'm given a problem and told to solve it, with minimal instruction or guidance. The opportunity to learn about the work that PPG does and to really become a part of their product line is absolutely incredible. Also, the people at the company really make it worth it. From fellow interns to coworkers to supervisors, everyone brings something new and different to the table, which makes for engaging conversations, general fun, and a great work environment.
What do you find challenging?
While highly important, quality testing can become repetitive. However, due to the nature of the work, intense attention must be constantly maintained over time. To combat this, one must work to balance testing with other projects to allow for consistent, quality engagement with all aspects of one's work.
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make the most of an internship like yours?
Engineering companies can vary drastically from one another; they can range from 5 person start-ups to global corporations with tens of thousands of employees. My advice is to pull on the strengths of the company that you end up at: if it's a small company, work as hard as you can and learn as much as you can. Take advantage of the fact that you can have an immediate and direct impact on the product; the CEO likely sits 2 desks over. At a larger company, use the wide body of knowledge that resides in the numerous employees to your benefit: talk to as many people as you can and learn about what they do and why they do it. Finally, no matter where one's company is located, get out and explore. College is an incredible time to experience the world for several reasons, foremost among them one's relative amount of freedom and people's willingness to talk and engage with students. Travel while you can!

About the Organization

PPG Aerospace
Sylmar, California

The PPG Aerospace portfolio is comprised of a unique group of products and services. Through a series of strategic acquisitions, PPG has assembled a team of industry leaders that builds on its own long history as a transparencies aviation leader, with PRC-DeSoto International for sealants, coatings, and packaging and application systems; Sierracin/Sylmar Corp. for advanced composite transparencies; and Eldorado Chemicals for paint removal and cleaning. Through this exceptional team, PPG is able to deliver what is key to the aviation industry: innovation.