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UAH Rotorcraft Center celebrates 'Milestone 500' in recognition of RSESC-Boeing student partnership

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (APR. 3, 2024) – The Rotorcraft Systems Engineering & Simulation Center (RSESC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) celebrated 'Milestone 500' on March 29, an event held on the UAH campus recognizing the 500-plus students who have graduated from a partnership program with Boeing. For the past 14 years, UAH and the Boeing Huntsville Design Center have provided opportunities for students to gain experience in real-world engineering at one of the world's largest aerospace companies through a program called the uSource Product Definition Team (PDT) that benefits everyone involved. The program was founded in April 2010. Students joining the initiative are hired by the RSESC to work alongside Boeing engineers with UAH Team Leads.

"Our students learn and grow so much in this program," says Jerry Hendrix, executive director of the RSESC. "It makes them extremely marketable, helping them to get excellent jobs. UAH could not be more thankful and appreciative for the opportunity in giving these students the potential to learn more about the applied side of their educational studies. It has given them an opportunity to find and pursue their unique abilities, helping to discover how to use their degree after graduation. A true success story!"

Each program participant learns engineering processes and tools while performing tasks to aid vital projects, such as design work supporting the C-17 Globemaster III, a massive long-haul military transport aircraft, or the F-15 Eagle, a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter. By graduation, the students have gained valuable familiarity with Boeing tools, processes and programs, as seen in this video.

"PDT helped propel my engineering career forward and opened up many opportunities to develop myself in ways that would otherwise be impossible," notes Bradley Thompson, a former PDT student.

Boeing manager Darren Workman agrees, noting the benefits of the program flow in both directions. "PDT gives Boeing a unique opportunity to develop and identify top engineering talent through years of on-the-job experience/evaluation instead of relying on a resume and interview," the manager reports.

A total of 65 students are currently participating in the program. Out of all the UAH participants, over half of program graduates eventually work for Boeing. The aerospace corporation currently boasts 200 personnel who graduated from UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System.

"RSESC Autonomous Aerospace Research is proud to continue our ongoing support of providing students to the Boeing Company," Hendrix says. "It's great to be associated with Boeing and seeing our students being a part of the proud Boeing tradition of excellence."

The UAH RSESC is a multifaceted research center founded in 2003 that focuses on applied research and systems engineering techniques in support of government, industry, commercial and small business partners. The center's particular areas of expertise include Autonomous Aerospace Research, Uncrewed Aircraft Systems, Vertical Lift, Digital Transformation, Systems Integration & Testing and the uSOURCE Student Support Staffing Program.


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