Intern experience

 Student interns at Northrop Grumman get head start

Northrop Grumman

Wilson Lysford, a mechanical engineering graduate, and Megan Larson, an electrical engineering sophomore, stand outside Grand Forks’ Northrop Grumman complex. Both discovered the aerospace company through UND’s Career Fair. Photo by Misty Perter-Belch, Northrop Grumman.

It was Wilson Lysford’s first day on the job at Northrop Grumman near Grand Forks.

He wasn’t nearly as nervous as most new employees.  He was ready to go because he’s been working as an intern there since January.

Lysford, who graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in May, took advantage of internship opportunities and the UND Career Fair to get a head start on his future.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I started at UND,” said the Detroit Lakes, Minn. native. “As I moved along, I eyed the defense sector, visited with Northrop Grumman at the Career Fair, and thought it was a good opportunity.”

It was.

Lysford was hired to be part of the vehicle engineering team, working on sensors for the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.

“The best part is getting to work with some of the more experienced engineers,” said Lysford. “I sit next to a 10-year veteran and am learning from him as I begin my engineering career.”

Lysford also had two other internships – one in Perham, Minn., with Kit Masters, a truck part manufacturer, and one with Retrax, a truck bed liner manufacturer in Grand Forks.

“UND Engineering prepared me well,” said Lysford. “They put an emphasis on qualitative reasoning and working in groups, as well as an emphasis on hands-on projects and finding group solutions to problems.”

Especially helpful, said Lysford, was working with off-campus distance students.

“I learned how to set up meetings and make connections,” he said. “Here, you’re not always sitting next to the person you’re working with.”

Gaining experience

The College of Engineering & Mines, like most colleges, encourages internships and experiential learning as part of the One UND Strategic Plan .

“Employers increasingly want to see experience in the new graduates they hire,” said Hesham El-Rewini, dean of the College of Engineering & Mines. “Not only does participation in an internship or coop make the student a more attractive candidate but it also enables the student to gain valuable experience while they take their career path on a test drive.”

“We are pleased to have several students taking part in our robust internship program at Grand Sky,” said David Hambleton, Grand Sky Program Manager and Site Lead for Northrop Grumman. “We appreciate the partnership with UND in conducting this worthwhile program.”

Leader in action

Megan Larson said her internship with Northrop Grumman has only reinforced her career goals.

An intern since October, the electrical engineering sophomore from Jamestown is working on aircraft reliability and maintainability for unmanned vehicles.

And she’s well on her way to her goal of being a role model for other women in STEM fields. In addition to being a member of the UND volleyball team, Larson is active in the Society of Women Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers on campus, and also works on cyber security challenges for the Data Energy & Cyber Systems research lab at the College of Engineering & Mines. She’s spoken to high school science classes and interned for Sen. John Hoeven.

Larson said she connected with Northrop Grumman at the UND Career Fair. “They offered students the opportunity to interface with the company, and for hiring managers to get to know UND students,” she said, adding that she began networking with the representatives before being chosen as an intern.

She said her internship experience has only reinforced what she wants to do after graduation.

“As an engineering student athlete, being on a team at Northrop Grumman has reinforced my passions, commitment and teamwork,” she said. “Northrop Grumman has been great at accommodating my schedule, and they know school is a priority. They’ve also accommodated my volleyball schedule and let me engage in challenging work. As a student athlete from UND, being average is not acceptable. I strive for excellence.”

Larson plans to continue her internship in fall as well as play volleyball and remain active on campus. “I’m excited to apply my time management skills,” she said. “I really enjoy what I do. Northrop Grumman offers a great opportunity for students to gain real-world experience.”