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Student Spotlights

Travis: Engineering

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Travis Komm is a Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology major who had the great opportunity to intern with Hexcel Corporation. Read more about his time as an engineer intern!

What did you do for your internship?

I was hired at Hexcel, a global manufacturer of carbon fiber and prepreg materials. As an engineer intern, I was first assigned to work with the reliability engineer in the maintenance department. The responsibility of these positions is to identify improvements that can be made to increase the reliability and decrease the unplanned downtime of the different product lines on the maintenance side of the plant.

My job included identifying and purchasing new equipment or machines that will improve areas where failures often occur. To do this, I had the opportunity to communicate with engineers all over the world to get their feedback and learn from their expertise.

Another task I often performed was redesigning machine parts to make them more reliable. This gave me an opportunity to demonstrate the CAD skills I have developed at school and in my free time. My ability to make part drawings has proved to be a valuable asset in the maintenance department. Doing this allows the company to have replacement parts made in the machine shop. This costs much less than paying outside companies to provide the parts.

After demonstrating proficiency in this area, my boss offered me a full-time position as a reliability engineer. In this new position, I will be using the skills I learned in school to help production processes run more reliably and efficiently.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?

As important as engineering skills are in the workplace, they cannot be used effectively without good communication skills. I believe that leadership experiences from my mission and from ROTC have helped me to be an effective communicator, which aided me in the completion of my most successful projects. There have been many times when I encountered questions about equipment or processes that I didn’t know how to answer. What I found is that for every problem, there is an engineer who is a subject matter expert. In my experience at Hexcel, I have seen that the most effective way to learn and solve many engineering problems is to lean on the expertise of others. While it is important for an engineer to become an expert in the field he or she works in, it is not critical to know how to solve every problem without assistance.

How did your courses and your major prepare you for your internship?

After taking so many engineering classes, I figured I would know how to do just about anything the job would require of me. I quickly learned that I was wrong. Most of the knowledge required to be successful in the workplace comes from hands-on experience. However, I came to recognize that my education at BYU has provided me with a great base of knowledge that can be built upon through individual effort and real world experiences.

Simply passing the classes does not provide a student with the knowledge necessary to succeed in the workplace. On the other hand, putting in the extra time to become proficient in the material covered in classes can make a student a valuable asset in his or her job.

Although classes have not always taught me all of the material I needed to know for my internship, they taught me critical thinking and problem solving skills that helped me to adapt and figure out how to be successful at the tasks I was assigned.

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why?

Yes, I would recommend this internship. Hexcel has a very good internship program and it is a great opportunity to work with the processes that drive the world's leading aerospace companies.

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Hexcel Carbon Fiber plant in SLC