A View From The Top: A Stevens Cooperative Education Student Takes Flight at F3 Engineering

2/24/2011

 Gone are the days of blasé internships filled with filing, collating and fetching coffee. Today’s internships are much more focused on providing job training in real time, affording students a hands-on experience to provide tomorrow’s workforce with skilled, qualified professionals. Or in the case of Washington Township resident Jaslyn George, it provides a view from the top – the top of an F18 fighter jet wing.

Jaslyn George found herself exactly there during her first few weeks at F3 Engineering, a Paterson aerospace engineering and manufacturing firm, as part of her cooperative education program with Stevens Institute of Technology. Back in September, F3 Engineering announced that they had finalized an agreement with Stevens to serve as a cooperative education program employer as part of their commitment to support excellence in education and help prepare professionals to enter the aerospace engineering industry. The Stevens program allows undergraduate students to work full-time in the areas of engineering and science that are related to their majors and career goals.
 
The infatuation for Jaslyn began the moment she arrived at F3’s Paterson headquarters for her interview and site tour. While being shown the machine shop, she was able to catch a glimpse of the new technology that F3 was in the process of creating, including seeing the inner workings of two different dampers – one that utilizes fluid-based shock and vibration technology for a government project and the other for a motorcycle steering mechanism.
 
But the highlight so far? Seeing that F18 fighter jet wing up-close. That’s when she knew this was going to be no ordinary co-op experience.
 
“I knew my experience at F3 was going to be great from the moment I started working there. My friends who had held co-op positions before told me that for the first few days all I’d be doing is filling out HR paperwork and going through training. However, my experience was quite different,” explained Jaslyn. “On my first day, I was introduced to the entire staff who were all incredibly welcoming. By 8:10am, I was already sitting in front of my computer with a cast aluminum wheel and caliper. A few hours later, I found myself in my first Bids & Proposals meeting. Within my first week, I attended a meeting about a new project and was expected to present my technical input.”
 
 Jaslyn is quick to credit the talented team at F3, who she calls “nothing short of amazing” for making her cooperative experience so rewarding. She indicates that the close-knit team at F3 made their passion for their projects known, as well as their dedication to seeing that her co-op is a hands‐on experience where her ideas are as valuable as any other member of the team. From the start, it was clear to Jaslyn that the team wanted this to be a highly beneficial learning experience for her.
 
“When Odilo Vazquez, who is the president and owner of F3 Engineering, initially showed me around the machine shop, it was easy to tell that he genuinely wanted me to understand the engineering concepts behind the designs of the technical team. He took the time to explain all the designs and to answer all my questions so I could better visualize how they work,” she recalled.
 
It’s clearly a win-win situation – one from which both student and employer benefit greatly. Odilo Vazquez, who received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stevens, recognizes the importance of on-the‐job training and how that translates to the future of the field of engineering.
 
“Everyone contributes to our culture of excellence at F3. The maturation process of an excellent engineer is well worth the investment of time and mentoring,” stated Odilo Vazquez.
 
The Birth of an Engineer
 
Fascinated by designing and problem solving from a young age, Jaslyn would find herself researching new technologies, questioning how they were made, and then thinking of possible improvements and ways to achieve those improvements. As part of the Pre-Engineering Academy at the Academies @ Englewood, a magnet high school that attracts talented youngsters from Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties, Jaslyn was exposed to numerous engineering classes that influenced her decision to pursue engineering as a career.
 
Initially attracted to architecture, Jaslyn realized that her architecture classes would be more highly art based without a strong root in math. It was that bit of research that led her to look further into engineering programs and ultimately to Stevens Institute of Technology. Jaslyn says she chose Stevens because of its great reputation, its focus on advancing technology, the many research opportunities it offers, and its small, beautiful campus.
 
Jaslyn explained that once she started her classes at Stevens, she knew she had made the right choice. She describes the thrill of being excited by every topic she was learning – falling in love with all her classes and enjoying every aspect of learning the material, including the hours spent studying. Her passion for engineering was indeed confirmed. And the most rewarding aspect of studying engineering for Jaslyn was having the ability to see her work materialize and not having to rely on people’s opinions.
 
“Engineers don’t rely on people’s opinions to determine whether or not what we’ve created is of good quality. We can run several definitive tests to determine this for ourselves. It’s just like math because you’re able to tell immediately when you’ve reached a solution,” she explained, adding that engineering has also helped shape her mind and find practical applications to everyday life. “We’re taught all sorts of problem-solving skills in our classes that I’ve found actually help me outside of the classroom. It’s trained my mind to view every situation for exactly what it is, and take a logical approach to making decisions.”
 
It’s Not Always a Man’s World
 
Traditionally thought of as a male-dominated industry, Jaslyn, who plans to pursue her master’s degree in either mechanical engineering or engineering management at Stevens after completing her undergraduate work in 2014, believes that opportunities in engineering for women seem endless. She hasn’t faced any setbacks as a result of her gender and doesn’t see any for the foreseeable future.
 
“I'm a petite girl and when people first see me, the last thing they would expect is for me to be an engineer. It's fun seeing them blown away by a little girl doing such big things,” she explained.
 
Although Jaslyn admits that the number of males outweigh the females in her classes, it’s experiencing the success of the women firsthand at F3 Engineering that inspires her. One of her favorite learning aspects of her position was seeing how closely the technical team worked with both the sales and purchasing teams, which are composed of a majority of women at F3. Jaslyn calls it a “refreshing change” to be around so many women, but is quick to add that she is both encouraged and valued by everyone at F3.
 
“Our goal for the cooperative education students joining us is for them to have a complete experience. Not only will they be exposed to specific engineering challenges, from both a design and manufacturing perspective but also be exposed to our entire team and customers,” explained Ken Rosenbaum, General Manager of F3. “To be successful, they must understand how engineering interfaces with other key departments like sales and purchasing as well as understanding customer expectations. Jaslyn has not only been having these opportunities here at F3, but she is starting to contribute as well.”
 
Jaslyn is passionate about encouraging others to pursue an education and career in engineering. She finds the design process extremely rewarding, especially seeing an idea formulated in your mind actually materializing in life. She makes an excellent argument when she points out how there has been numerous advances in technology that directly benefit people on an everyday basis, all because of engineers.
 
“I realize that in the future I’ll be very happy simply inventing new technology in any form,” Jaslyn muses, adding that: “Engineering allows you to be creative through your designs. And it’s also reaffirming because when all the quality tests are done, you know for a fact what you’ve created is good.”
 
But at the end of the day, the most exciting part for Jaslyn is that glorious view from the F18 fighter jet wing. “It’s such a thrilling feeling working on top of the wing. I can’t imagine ever growing tired of it.”
 
About F3 Engineering
F3 Engineering is a provider of technology, products and services in military and commercial mission-­‐critical applications. With the resources and technical expertise to prototype and manufacture highly complex products, F3 brings technical, administrative and managerial resources together to provide a total program of complex engineering and contract manufacturing solutions. For more information on F3’s dedication to providing technical guidance and support to its customers, visit www.f3engineering.com.
 
Original press release issued by Ken Rosenbaum, General Manager, F3 Engineering.