Co-op Experiences Help Student’s Dreams Take Flight

Ethan Yen
Maddie White (center) and her parents on a family day during her co-op with Boeing

Maddie White, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, is gaining valuable experience in the aerospace industry through the Drexel’s renowned co-op program. Currently in her third co-op rotation – and second at Lockheed Martin – White has been diligently working towards a goal of designing aircraft that she can trace back to her childhood.

"I remember watching a show on TV with my family one time that featured military aircraft and how the rotors of a helicopter worked to produce lift," she recalled. "I was hooked, and it was in that moment that I knew someday I wanted to be involved in designing these awesome aircraft."

With a family legacy of engineers and a natural inclination towards math and physics, pursuing a career in aerospace engineering seemed like a perfect fit for White.

Before landing her current position at Lockheed Martin, White completed her first co-op at Boeing, where she was part of the V-22 CC-RAM program's Industrial Engineering team. During her time there, she played a crucial role in supporting the production of Osprey tiltrotor aircraft for the U.S. Marines. Her responsibilities included designing tools, proposing improvements to streamline production processes, and collaborating with the Marines and U.S. government to efficiently allocate parts to aircraft. One of the highlights of her experience at Boeing was the opportunity to witness a flight test firsthand, further fueling her passion for the aerospace industry.

Now, as a member of Lockheed Martin's Mechanical Antenna Design Team in Moorestown, NJ, White is immersed in the ASEV (Aegis System Equipped Vessel) program. Her primary focus is on integrating advanced SPY-7 radars onto Japanese military ships, enhancing their ability to detect missiles and potential air threats. White's day-to-day tasks involve designing test fixtures, meticulously selecting appropriate parts, and fostering collaborative relationships with vendors to ensure the successful implementation of the radar systems.

White is quick to emphasize the abundance of learning opportunities her current role provides, stating, "I have been able to build off my last co-op and take on full responsibility of tasks as though I were a full-time engineer," she said. She credits her ability to excel in this position to the robust educational foundation she received at Drexel, which equipped her with the necessary skills to apply advanced mechanical engineering concepts in a professional setting.

Through her diverse co-op experiences, spanning from working on military aircraft at Boeing to ship-based radars at Lockheed Martin, White has developed a deep-rooted passion for mechanical design engineering that transcends specific products. "I've realized that I enjoy mechanical engineering no matter what product I am on," White expressed with enthusiasm. As she continues to gain hands-on experience and build an impressive portfolio of professional accomplishments, Maddie White is well on her way to making a significant impact in the aerospace engineering industry she has dreamed of being a part of since childhood.